One of the common refrains of people with complaints about the church is that it is full of hypocrites. One of my favorite preachers regularly replies to the sentiment by saying “yeh we are, you’ll fit right in”. Most of us in one area or another, Christian or non-Christian, have some area of hypocrisy. Hypocrite is defined as “
The fact is we all want to be better than we actually are. In this pursuit of better-ment often our thoughts of where we are get out of wack from where we actually are. This is normal, it is going to happen. The problem is when we attempt to present ourselves better than we are. As Christians we know the standard. The standard is exemplified in Jesus Christ, He was perfect, God is perfect, perfection is what is required. The good news is we don’t have to be perfect on our own. Jesus has paid the debt for sin on our behalf so before God we can stand clean. Then in our current reality we are being renewed by the Holy Spirit. He is making us more like Jesus, closer to the perfect standard with each step.
So we as Christians are inherently hypocritical, because the standard we strive for is perfection and none of us are perfect. But if we live this in humility it is gracious, loving and understanding that we all start at different places on this journey to being more like Jesus. The problem is when we attempt to look good, holy, righteous or “holy-er than thou” in front of others. Jesus in his famous sermon on the mount is very hostile toward this sort of behavior. In verse states ““Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractively,so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward” (Matt. 6:16).
Perhaps your thinking that this is a bit fake? I am miserable but I am supposed to act like I have it together. Well, if you were just miserable that would be wrong and fake. As Christians we are called to bear each others burdens. We can’t do that if we hide our struggles from each other. The person in this verse is miserable because they are seeking God they are fasting for greater righteousness and intimacy with God. In that case we could be tempted to flaunt our “holiness” so Jesus says no we keep that between us and God.
We are hypocrites, admit it, embrace it, and live humblly in it.