When Christians let us down and get us down, the key to rebuilding our faith and our feelings is to think less about Christians and more about Christ. As that’s easier said than done, let’s begin that re-thinking process today with some Christ-centered analysis of this problem, and tomorrow we’ll look at Christ-centered solutions. So how does Jesus view the horrendous hypocrisy and depressing deceit that we sometimes encounter in professing Christians.
1. Jesus hates hypocrisy
Jesus doesn’t wink at, tolerate, or excuse hypocrisy; He abhors it. In the Old Testament, He spoke through the prophets to expose the evil of Israel’s double-dealings and hollow hearts. No matter how many sacrifices they offered, God was wearied and disgusted by their duplicity and dishonesty. In the New Testament, Jesus targeted hypocrisy from the beginning to the end of his ministry. When we encounter professing Christians with double-standards or no-standards it’s a comfort to know that Jesus detests it more than we do.
2. Jesus experienced hypocrisy
Jesus not only saw inconsistency, He was a victim of it throughout His life and in His death. Much of his ministry was spent experiencing it, confronting it, and condemning it (Matt. 6:1-18; 23). He could see it far more clearly and deeply than we can. His X-ray eyes penetrated every Pharisaical mask and disguise to detect every contradiction between lips and life. His painful experience of hypocrisy in the worst Pharisees and the best disciples was a large part of His atoning and saving sufferings. They also give Him a sympathy and empathy with us. However pained we are by phony faith, we can take our pain to someone who felt it even deeper.
3. Jesus predicted hypocrisy
We shouldn’t be surprised at the existence of hypocrisy in the church. Jesus told us directly and through His apostles that there will never be a pure church in this world. It will always be a mixture of wheat and tares, true and false, right to the end of time (Matt. 13:24-30). Jesus gave us the parable of the tares to help us manage our expectations, to explain the pain of past experience, and also to avoid deeper disappointment in the future.
4. Jesus uses hypocrisy
Why did Jesus choose to do it this way? Why did he not create a pure church full of pure people? Why allow tares to be mixed with the wheat?
- He uses these trials to test, prove, and improve our faith: if we hang on to Christ despite all the pain His professing people inflict on us and others, then our faith must be genuine.
- He also uses these hassles to motivate self-examination: if so many people are so blind to their faults, there’s a good possibility that I’m blind to mine too.
- Sometimes He uses these adversities to glorify His grace: when we see that even the best Christians have so much hypocrisy left in them, we marvel at what a gracious Savior Jesus must be.
5. Jesus will end hypocrisy
While the church has always been mixed throughout the ages, the Day is coming when Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff and gather all the tares out of his field to be burned. He will end the pain and distress of this present mixed state of the church and establish a church made up of a perfect number of perfect people. It will be a beautiful bride without spot or wrinkle or any other ugly defect.
Tomorrow we’ll look at 10 practical strategies for thinking about Christ more than Christians.
Bill Gates: My Plan to Fix the World’s Biggest Problems
Nothing a tape measure, calculator, and spreadsheet won’t fix.
Revolution hits the Universities
I share Friedman’s excitement. And from the Harvard Business Review, Eight Brilliant Minds on the Future of Education
Another “Last Lecture”
Not quite, but here is the Natasha Turner’s chapel address to Southern Christian High School in Michigan. Natasha, a guidance counselor at the school, died last Friday after a 6-year battle with cancer. The first part of the posting is her obituary, but if you scroll down a bit, there’s a transcript of a chapel message she gave in September last year. It’s such a powerful presentation of the gospel in affliction.
Brooks, Baseball, and Battles among believers
“Perhaps it is not the Puritans with their endlessly annotated outlines but we, with our theological soundbites and snippets, who have unnecessarily complicated Christianity. Perhaps the Puritans, for all their fastidiousness, show us a simpler and more Christ-centered way.”
Best Commentaries on Matthew
Also check the comments for further recommendations.
Business as Ministry
Good to see more Christians writing on this neglected subject.
If you ask most people why they don’t go to church, or why they don’t want to become Christians, one of the most common answers is, “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites!”
Those who have left the church often give the same answer. Both groups have encountered Christians, experienced their inconsistencies, and decided, “If that’s Christianity, you can keep it.”
Even those of us who remain in the church are often deeply disappointed and discouraged by the failings and double standards of some fellow-Christians. Of course, some are Christians only in name, but not in reality. However, even the best Christians have blind spots and inconsistencies that baffle and upset us.
We might not see them at the beginning when we are first converted. In the first bloom of Christian love, we might even think that some Christians and preachers belong to angelic ranks. But, before too long, our initial impressions are discovered to be initial illusions and we might even wonder if it’s the fallen angels we’ve fallen in with!
Sometimes we too are tempted to give up and withdraw from our churches in angry disgust, but usually we just keep going along, inwardly seething or perhaps loudly criticizing the failings of others.
At the root of this disillusionment is the successful satanic strategy of turning our attention away from Christ and towards Christians. The more the devil can keep people thinking and talking about Christians, the less people will be thinking and talking about Jesus. And the more people think and talk about Christians instead of Christ, the more dismayed and downcast we will become. When negatives outweigh positives, there’s only one way to go, and that’s down.
I’ve certainly fallen into this soul-sapping habit at various points in my life, and I’m sure most of us succumb to it to some degree or another. Tomorrow I want to outline strategies that will shift our attention away from the double-standards and the no-standards of some Christians, and to lift our eyes and hearts upwards to the soul-elevating Christ.
Confessions of a new Mom’s Devotional Life
If you’re a new Mom you’ll be encouraged. If you’re an expectant Mom you’ll be prepared. If you’re neither, you’ll be more prayerful and supportive for those who are.
13 Reasons Christians Don’t Need to Fear
So needed! Thank you.
Pastor, how are you on Facebook so much?
You may not have said it. But have you thought it? Ron Edmondson explains his social media strategy with four words.
A Christian walks into Barnes & Noble
Tony Reinke shares a superb quote from Herman Bavinck. This could change the whole way you look at the world.
Conquering the lonely grave
Mike Leake writes a moving Christ-centered post about his encounter with depression.
When the elders say No
Paul Levy’s takeaway from a remarkable and rare incident: “I’ve said it many times but we all need people who can get in our face and say no. The longer a man is in a pastorate the harder that is going to be. The need for us all to realise we are accountable men, to God and to others is absolutely vital. We must keep our best men in the local church, preaching, teaching, leading sessions, being tied to one local body of believers. There’s no work like the work of the Church.”
Email and RSS readers click here to view video. Previous Videos in the How Sermons Work series on selecting a text.
Linking gun control to mental health misguided, ineffective
“A safer, healthier, more peaceful society is not borne of misguided legislation, but deep respect for God’s greatest creation: human life.”
4 Success Tips for Mental Health Support Groups
I’d love to see more of these in our churches.
Schizophrenia and the “successful”
This is a tremendously encouraging and challenging article, and so is the story it links to about Law Professor Elyn Saks, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia 30 years ago.
What would you say to yourself at 16?
Bob Kellemen answers.
When he feels far off
Print this and keep it handy for the next time God feels distant. Wise combination of biblical truth and spiritual experience.
Why I’m glad my Smartphone broke
“In many ways, a smartphone has become a mandatory extension of the mind. But I feel it has had no major impact on my life to leave it behind. I have come to deeply enjoy to being completely plugged out when I am not at my computer. I enjoy not always being up to date, and not having one more expensive item to worry about. It is a small temptation in your pocket that can make you lose focus on the people you’re around.”