Many people reject the gospel and cite their primary reason to be the hypocrisy of those claiming their name of Christ, whether co-workers, family members or neighbors. Their disappointing experience with people they deem “hypocrites” tops the list of frequently given reasons to avoid any church.
In response, we as believers often defensively attempt to explain or excuse the charge by admitting that we are all sinners, and that no church is perfect and that hypocrisy on the part of some need not invalidate the witness of others.
However, I’m taking a new approach after my recent study in Matthew. Hypocrisy shouldn’t be a surprise. Consider the very words of Jesus in two significant parables in Matthew 13:24-30 (wheat and tares) and Matthew 13:47-53 (the net cast into the sea) I’m planning a new response to the next accusation of hypocrisy I receive, perhaps a surprising one.
“Of course there are hypocrites in the church. Are you surprised? Jesus himself instructed his disciples to expect it.” I think this unexpected answer might be followed up with a suggestion that the inquirer read those parables for themselves. In both Jesus teaches that true and counterfeit believers will exist together until the end of the age. And interestingly it is not my job, nor yours, to ferret them out and throw them out. That daunting task is reserved for God’s own angels. However, the final destination of those hypocrites would also be startling read for a honest skeptic. Perhaps surprising enough to motivate them to seek further the words of Jesus.
My focus need not be defending the church, God will take care of His body. My focus needs to be on following Him and guarding my own heart so that I don’t provide more opportunity for such accusations.