Hypocrites in Church

Not going to church because there are hypocrites there is like not going to the gym because there are fat people there.

What is a Hypocrite?
In Jesus' day, a hypocrite was a theater actor, one who played the part of someone other than who he really was.  The 1991 Random House Dictionary defines a hypocrite as "a person who practices hypocrisy, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs." 

How would you define a hypocrite?  Is it:

  • Someone who acts like they are perfect on Sundays, but lies, cheats and steals the rest of the week?
  • Anyone whose actions don't match the type of person they would have you believe they are? 
  • Anyone who knows what they should do, but who has, at some time, failed to do so? 
That last one is a trick question, for the truth is, no one does everything they know they should do.  There are no "perfect" Christians. 

Yes, there are hypocrites who attend church, phonies who "talk the talk" but don't "walk the walk." 

There are people who think that appearing in a church on Sunday is all that God requires of them. 

And there are some people who only go to church to impress the neighbors. 

And some who think that being a Christian only affects one day (or half a day) out of the seven. 

But seeing this hypocrisy, you know this isn't as it should be. 

Real Christianity isn't a hobby.  Something as important as our relationship with our Creator and our Judge should affect all our decisions, all our choices, and all our activities.  It should be a way of life. 

How can you know when you've spotted a hypocrite? 

"Religious talk" does not identify someone as a phony.  As you might expect, genuine Christians also talk about God and His standards. 

Making a mistake does not identify someone as a phony.  Even genuine Christians make mistakes.  There is no such thing as a perfect Christian. 

We are not the ones who should judge.  Such decisions should be left to God.  We may have our suspicions about the people we know well, and we should be careful, but only He know their hearts.  The hypocrite's condition is a matter between God and them.

So don't let the danger of running into hypocrites keep you from attending church.  Rejecting Christianity because some people who call themselves Christians are hypocrites makes about as much sense as rejecting modern medicine because some people who call themselves doctors are incompetent. 

Why attend church at all? 

I go to church because it's the best place I know of to learn about God, His love, and what He requires of me. 

To borrow a term from NASA, we all need to make "mid-course corrections," and comparison with God's standards tells us which way and how far to turn. If you find yourself in a church that doesn't do this, try another one.  We must aim for perfection, even though we will never be perfect in this world, just as a sailor may steer toward the North Star, knowing he will never reach it.