“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.
This is how people will “see” Jesus in us. This is REAL.
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/