Why Are Young Americans Leaving the Church? Hypocrites?
Part 3 of 4
Earlier, we discussed two of the most-often cited reasons (by young Americans themselves) for leaving the church: they see the church as being intolerant and they believe the message of the church to be irrelevant. Now to the third most-oft cited issue: there are too many hypocrites (especially adults) in the church.
A hypocrite is a fake, play-actor, a counterfeit. He who is bothered by hypocrites in churches would do well to consider the following:
- Patent and explicit warnings against hypocrisy are given in the Bible literally from cover to cover. One need not worry: God sees everybody and everything and nobody is “getting away” with anything.
- The proper emotion toward hypocrites should be pity, not anger. One should never, ever, in any sense, be envious of a hypocrite, in view of the hypocrite’s inevitably disastrous future.
- To focus on hypocrites, troubling as they are, takes one’s focus off Christ and, thus, causes one to be in danger of engaging in a subtle (but real and very effective) form of idolatry.
- Because a hypocrite attends a church is no reason why others should not on the same logic that hypocritical doctors and bankers and sports-fans should not cause one to forsake hospitals and banks and sports events. (“I am an honest person and because of the financial collapse in 2008 due to banking shenanigans, I will never deposit another dollar in any bank!” “And ditto about ever seeing another doctor in my life because Dr. Jones is on the take from pharmaceutical companies!) All professions demonstrably feature hypocrites!
- No person is totally consistent, including the hypocrite-chaser. It is entirely possible that somebody is labeling him a hypocrite as we speak! If one has attained spiritual perfection, he should do all churches a favor and not join any of them: by doing so he would seriously disturb the fellowship. With apologies to Shakespeare, “Consistency, thou art an oft-pursued-but-forever-unreachable-jewel.”
- Every church referenced in the New Testament had hypocrites, some notoriously, but no passage there counsels us to leave off attendance at corporate worship sessions. Such attendance is in fact explicitly commanded! (My fourth column addresses that subject.)
- It is true that “by their fruits you shall know them,” but a warning is called for here: human beings are famously incapable of judging the thoughts, motives, indeed, the entire realm of human psychodynamics which cause people to act the way they do. Jesus told His disciples to leave off separating the “wheat” and the “tares” for now, and allow Him to handle all that Himself when He returns. We can all be certain that (a) He will, indeed, separate false disciples from true ones, (b) His decisions will be perfect, and (b) there will be some shocking surprises.
- Before there was ever a counterfeit dollar bill, a real one had to exist. The counterfeit Christian proves the existence of the real thing. Imitate the winner, not the loser.
- BE DOUBLY CERTAIN THAT YOU ARE NOT A HYPOCRITE! Ponder, carefully, II Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you---unless indeed you fail the test?” (NASV, emphasis added)