There’s a lot you have to say and I like your honesty and being upfront. No need to play games here. So with everything you wrote, (and didn’t write) we’ll just tackle one point at a time.
As I noted earlier, there exists a counterfeit church today which is quite foreign from the real deal. But there is always an element of the real CHURCH in the world no matter what kind of institution is being propagated. You can read more about the authentic church here in Kingdomology under the CHURCH page. But in short, the Church has nothing to do with buildings or institutions. The authentic Church is more about God’s people called to him. When it comes to people, yes, you are quite right, there are a lot of people who make great claims about being good “Christians” but don’t seem to be any different than the rest of the world other than just being a religious pain in the rear because of self-righteousness. I get that. But here are some other points to consider.
1. Possibly these folks are really not Christians. In other words I can say I’m a Muslim because I go to a mosque. But that doesn’t change who I am on the inside. An apple can say it’s an orange, but that doesn’t make one fruit the other. Pt? Judge a tree by its fruit and not by what it says.
2. Possibly these “Hypocrites” are followers of Christ, but have lost their way. In one sense, everyone is a hypocrite about something. A guy plays pro-ball, but blows it from time to time. Can he still say he’s a pro-ball player or is he a hypocrite?
3. Could be that they are just sadly misguided. They have not been properly taught about what it really means to follow Christ. They took the ‘fire insurance’ but didn’t connect the life change.
4. Just because there are hypocrites out there, that does not mean that God or the CHURCH in its purest sense is wrong. You’ve spoken of loving Texas. There are some real nut jobs from Texas. Does that mean that all Texans are weird?
5. In conclusion, I just want to throw out a challenge to everyone who hates the church. I understand you’ve been jaded and I want to apologize for that. I understand that you’ve been wronged and I’m sorry. I do love people who don’t like the Church and want to be friends with them. But real friendships are two way streets so I just want to ask that everyone consider at least two things to start with.
a. Look to the real church. Consider all the major institutions in the West which exist to help mankind that were actually started by the church and Christ followers long ago. The Red Cross, most hospitals, and the YMCA. Even Harvard was founded for the purpose of better educating itinerant preachers without resources. Do I say it, but the “SALVATION ARMY”? So don’t waste your time on the counterfeits, but look to the source. Look to Jesus alone.
b. Be honest. Critics of the Church have been honest with their gripes and I’m happy and open for that. But I also want to ask that they honestly examine their own hearts as well. In other words, are the arguments people bring up against God really that solid or just a mask for rebellion? I’ve had good friends in the past who have rejected Christ and the Church, but when it all came clean, it was just an issue of choosing to say no to God because they didn’t want to submit to a higher power. In short, they wanted to be Master of their own destiny and didn’t want anyone or any god telling them what to do.
Is there anything else you would add?
Thanks for your input into the conversation Paul.
You are correct in that the CHURCH is bigger than any one person at any one time. I like your slant on a call for all of us to be honest with ourselves and have mercy on everyone. At one point or another, we are all hypocrites. But I would not totally agree with your assessment that Christ cannot change our soul. But rather, I would understand the root purpose of Christ was that he does indeed change us. While we do struggle with inconsistencies and things won’t be perfect until we reach the other side of eternity, we can still grow in our transformation on a daily basis. It would seem that the closer we get to Christ himself, the closer we can indeed get to that truth we all want.
Somewhere in the mind of God exists the idea of honesty. It is a troubled sentiment bound to the notion of the self unbound by its own distractions, and incapable of fruition in the world at large. The human soul is too myriad and multifaceted a thing to resonate with a single truth- conceived as it was, the soul is bound to change and inconstancy. Christ cannot change that, nor do I imagine He wishes to do so.
So where are we left, as such humans caught in the maelstrom of our identity? For sure as I, your complaint of hypocrisy is not in your not possessing any, but in their refusing to admit its presence. Saying what we believe isn’t honesty any more than taking a dish we desire; it is expression and conquest all at once. Pure creation after a fashion, and a subtler imitation of God than kneeling prayer.
If you want to know why the church seems to encourage hypocrisy, the answer is twofold. Firstly, people are weak and cannot help but be hypocritical. Secondly, the Church asks man to be strong. I suppose it is best pictures thus; the Church is not the individual within, but the sum of all its working parts. The hypocrite is but a victim to his own vanity; he attains after the divinity of his soul, but seizes at the baser elements which compose it.
In such a light, it is not effort nor patience I suggest. I suggest instead mercy and kindness. People cannot help but be weak. You cannot help them to be stronger when you leave them. And if you feel yourself frail, then surely sympathy is in order; we are all hypocrites, and owning up to it is difficult in any context.
Mercy on them. They are human too.
Bonnie, you are right there is hypocrisy in the church. Most of the people I know including myself could be called hypocrites at one time or another. The one thing that cause all of that to go away is Christ. I will never be perfect but I do strive to follow the example of Christ on a daily basis. I FAIL, a lot. I try not to but I still do. I have many friends from CHURCH that keep me honest and call me on it when I do. They don’t do this to be mean or to say that they are better than me, but to keep me on that path of following Christ.
Bonnie I suggest finding a local church and giving it another try. Find one that you are confortable in and remember that none of us are perfect and that we were all destined for the same place until Christ died on the cross for us.
Love in Christ.
Maybe part of the rub Bonnie is as you’ve said, you’ve been hosed by people and that bites. I’ve been bitten too and understand that. But the key is to focus on knowing Jesus who is the source of it all. Mankind blows it all the time. But Jesus never does.
The deal on the “counterfeit” church has to do with whether or not it lines up with the Church as seen in the Bible. A proff I had once said that the church is authenticated only as far as it resembles what the Bible says the church is. Considering, “THE CHURCH” and church, I’m refereeing to a local body of believers which is the lower case “c” and then the CHURCH which is comprised of all Christ followers from all time. In other words, while I have not personally met the church leader, Martin Luther from the 16th century, we are still part of the bigger CHURCH. While I do not attend church with people in Chile, we are still part of the greater CHURCH which is not confined by lines on the map or local cultures.
Hang in there and don’t give up hope yet.
Okay, here’s the deal. Steve, you and I went to the same church in Amarillo. I went with Mary. I loved that church; however, that’s when I really started to see the hypocrisy. Not just in the youth group but also with the adults. For me, it’s just not about hypocrisy, it’s about so much more. I’ve been baptized and said the words I was supposed to say and at the time I did believe what I said. But now, those words will never come out of my mouth again. So, I am confused here about “THE CHURCH” as opposed to the church. Also not getting the counterfeit church thing.
Lori, thanks for your response. I have just one comment, I don’t have much faith in people:). I guess I’m hosed on this faith thing all around.
Just because we are “Christians” does not mean we are “perfect”, but we have forgiveness and unconditional love. I want to use Christ as my example of how I treat others, but I know I will never reach his level of kindness and humility because I am human.
The church is full of humans at all different levels in their relationship with Christ. We try to work together to encourage each other and lift each other up. Because we are “people” there will always be hurt and hypocisy, but because we are “Christians”, I hope we can forgive and love.
Steve, I pray that your friend, Bonnie, can find a church home that she can grow and learn in, but I know that she will never find a “perfect” church here on earth, and that if she will accept Jesus and have faith in Him (and not people:) she will one day see that perfect CHURCH in Heaven:)