“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” — Keith Green
Recently I was speaking with a friend who no longer attends church. “The church makes me sick. The people are intolerant, self-righteous hypocrites,” she said.
Of course, I could have gotten defensive. Honestly, I felt a little angry. But when I saw behind her anger, what I actually detected was pain. And so I listened. I listened to her speak about the contractor who took a downpayment for a job he never completed. The Bible study who shunned the gay teen. The Pastor who committed adultery. The prayer requests that turned into fodder for gossip. And believe it or not, there was more.
These are unfortunate and heartbreaking examples I wish I could say are out of the ordinary. But they’re not.
So, how did I respond to my friend? “I’m so sorry that your experience with people who call themselves Christians has been so hurtful. But that’s not Jesus.”
She shrugged. “But aren’t Christians—especially those who go to church— supposed to act like Jesus by following His example?”
That’s when I quoted Keith Green. “Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”
She laughed. And so did I. But then the conversation got serious again.
Here’s the reality: Christians, we need to do better.
Why? Because people need Jesus. Because we—the church, the Christians—are supposed to represent Jesus. Because people are hungry for truth and for authentic. And quite frankly, they are sick of people who say one thing but do another. That is the definition of a hypocrite. The term “hypocrite” is from the Latin hypocrisies meaning “play-acting, pretense.” Which is exactly what people don’t want.
Many Christians today have fallen into a trap of pretending to have it all together. In fact, that’s a big reason we are called hypocrites. When we pretend to others, we have a tendency to become blinded to our own hypocrisy. This is very dangerous. Take a look at what Jesus had to say: ““What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28
Here’s the truth. All Christians fail to live up to the standard the Bible teaches. This includes me. This is why I need grace. This is why we need grace. But we shouldn’t hide the fact that we need grace as if Christians don’t make mistakes that require it.
I’m not saying to flaunt your mistakes. I’m saying, let people see the progress you are making as you grow in your relationship with Jesus.
We should be genuinely and actively seeking to grow more and more like Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us and change us. When we pretend on the outside, many times we aren’t allowing God to convict us on the inside. This is how Christianity appears hollow and phony.
The fact that we receive God’s grace on a daily basis is the very reason we will, in turn, extend grace to others.
Showing grace to others is a byproduct of receiving God’s grace.
Showing grace to others is a byproduct of receiving God’s grace.https://t.co/GrNytKnxGZ
— Beckie Lindsey (@BeckieLindsey_) July 26, 2016
This is how people will “see” Jesus in us. This is REAL.
If we aren’t awed by God’s daily love & grace, how will we be able to truly extend love and grace to a world that is desperate for it?
— Beckie Lindsey (@BeckieLindsey_) July 26, 2016
If we aren’t awed by God’s daily love and grace, how will we be able to truly extend love and grace to a world that is desperate for it?
What are your thoughts?
This post is linked to: http://www.leahadams.org/the-loft-link-up-pot-luck-7/
Thank you, Beckie. I love your encouragement to “let people see the progress you are making as you grow in your relationship with Jesus.” Wonderful post!
“Showing grace to others is a byproduct of receiving God’s grace.” So true!! Thanks for this heartfelt challenge, Beckie!
Love the Keith Green references.. 😉
Scott, Yeah, I probably should include a link to listen to his music. Such passion! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Great post! So true that we as Christians need to be authentic!
Courtney, Yes, it’s something I’m working on (with God’s guidance of course!). Thanks for commenting.
I love Keith Green’s statement! It actually is a derivation of something evangelist Billy Sunday said ages ago – Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. 🙂
Yes, Beckie, you bring up some crucial points here. We should examine our own hearts more and judge others less – LOTS less! Hope your friend will be able to find a church that welcomes her.
Martha, I want to thank you for two things. One, clarification on Keith Green’s quote. Two, for your continued support and encouragement. You have blessed me so much!
I just came across your blog, this was a refreshing post to read. Thanks for posting!
Amy. I’m so pleased you enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. God bless you and yours!
Thank you for today’s blog post! I also left a church for the same reasons. Appreciate this!
Amen! The church should be full of sinners, but as you say, not those who act like they have it together but don’t. I completely agree that we need to be transparent about our struggles and extend grace to each other. If we lead with that type of attitude, people will follow!
Heather, thanks so much for your encouraging thoughts.
Excellent and right on! God’s love, His grace, and His mercy are given to us. Should we not be giving from the beautiful well of God? I believe so. Thanks for food to ponder!
Linda, Well said: “Should we not be giving from the beautiful ‘well’ of God?” (pun intended—insert smiley face here!)
This is a much-needed post, Beckie. We are not perfect and we should not try to wear a mask so others think we are. We also need to be obedient to the Lord and allow him to prune the hypocrisy out of us.
Oh, how I agree with you! The pruning process isn’t easy (I know from experience!), but so necessary. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
For some reason Christians and non-Christians think we suppose to be perfect. We have to learn it’s a process that we will be going through until Jesus returns.
We are all hypocrites at times because we all fall short and don’t live up to what we believe or say.
Yes we do need to do better by receiving more of His grace and learning and accepting who we are.
Like you said, people are starving for truth and authenticity and through our self-acceptance that what they will see. Because they are doing more watching than listening.
Vernon, You are so right about Christians and non-Christian’s need to be seen as perfect. Oh, the freedom Christ has offered to us all! Thanks for commenting and may the Lord bless you!
Yes–we do need to do better.Understanding God’s grace to us should prompt us to offer grace toward others.
Definitely we should ” let people see the progress you are making as you grow in your relationship with Jesus.”
I’m definitely a work in progress! Thanks for sharing, Beckie!
Me too, Jerralea! Sometimes I think I should walk around with an orange “Under construction. Please be patient” sign on my chest 🙂 Hmm, that sounds like another blog post to me!
Excellent post, Beckie. Being authentic is what people actually seek for, especially the younger generation. They can see right through the hipe, fake and pontificating that goes on. Thanks for sharing, beautiful lady.
Shira, Thanks for the encouragement. Our testimony of how Jesus saved us is a powerful tool. We shouldn’t hide our flaws, but be continually pointing to how the Lord is growing and changing us.
Amen to that!
Enjoyed your post. Amen!
Megan, thanks for following Spotlight. Glad you enjoyed this post. Blessings to you and yours!
Christian means Christ-like. We need to act like Jesus would if he were walking around here in 2016.
I agree! WWJD. Thanks for stopping by Spotlight and for your comment.