A Christian Dilemma: Hypocrisy Vs. Authenticity

IF NO ONE IS PERFECT, THEN WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?

One of the most tragic arguments baffling the mind of the unbeliever is the idea that once a believer, a person is made perfect.

In a previous article, “Disbelief & Finding My Way Home: Part 2,” I explain what I believe Christianity is. To reiterate, here is how I define Christianity: 

putting my relationship with Jesus first and seeking Him when I forget, humbly pursuing Him and coming back to Him when I lose track of that pursuit. Christians are not perfect people who have decided to stop pursuing a life of denial, nor do we think we’re perfect because of our decision to accept Jesus. Christians are sinners who recognize their sin and acknowledge their need for a Messiah.”

Faith does not make any person perfect. We’re all prone to flaws—before and after faith. If anything, a person’s faith gives him more reason to admit their imperfections, admitting their need for Christ as more important than anything. In other words, Christianity doesn’t perfect: it humbles. People arrive at the fallacy of Christian perfection from others who project their faith with an attitude of entitlement.

MORAL DOMINANCE & FIGHTING THE WRONG BATTLE

When a Christ-follower gets caught in the trap of believing faith-based morality is grounds for judging others, their humility has been compromised.  The Christian, disparaging an atheist’s disbelief, is no more effective than an unbeliever condemning a Christian’s open-mindedness to faith. What needs to be noted here is how misplaced moral disparagement doesn’t allow any room for grace to move in the believer. A believer, capitalizing on the expression that faith is right and disbelief is wrong, does nothing short of arguing to the unbeliever that what is most important in Christianity is the pride in being right, rather than the compassionate depth of grace. 

The abusive treatment of the believer towards the atheist is ultimately valid ground for the unbeliever to view faith as a waste of time. Understandably, the source of the believer’s faith would then appear founded in judgment, condemnation, and prideful morality, when what is most important should be how we love one another, despite our differences.

THE DILEMMA OF IDENTITY AND CHRISTIAN HYPOCRISY

Timothy Keller, in his book Making Sense Of God, writes:

Theologian Miroslav Volf summarizes four ways that we can set and bolster our self-worth by excluding others. We can literally kill or drive the Other out of our living space. A more subtle and common way is exclusion by assimilation. We can demand that they conform completely to our own patterns and standards, not allowing them to express any difference at all. “We will refrain from vomiting you out… if you let us swallow you up.” A third form of exclusion could be called “dominance.” We let you live among us and maintain your identity, but only if you assume an inferior race—not getting certain jobs, attaining particular levels of pay, or living in certain neighborhoods. The fourth kind of exclusion is abandonment. That is, we exclude the Other by disdaining and ignoring them, taking no thought for their needs. The reason we indulge in these attitudes and practices is that by denouncing and blaming the other it gives us “the illusion of sinlessness and strength.”

When a Christian denounces the unbeliever for their doubt instead of loving them in their unbelief, they make the mistake of identifying with the egocentrism of pride rather than the selfless character of Christ. When a believer’s self-worth is not rooted in Christ, it is rooted in the ways of the world. How then can we be reborn if we still cling to the world? We cannot. We either surrender ourselves by picking up our cross and following Him, or we abandon our cross for someone else to bear. 

CHRISTIAN FACADES AND PLURALISM

The choice we make in how seriously we take our faith, defines the example we are for the world. When a person claims to be a “Christian” while still clutching the ways of the world, the unbeliever witnesses hypocrisy and may assume this contradiction to be the face of all Christianity. While we do not carry the responsibility of every believer in this world, we do bear the witness of every unbeliever in this world. When we do not take our own faith seriously, we leave room for the unbeliever to view the Christian faith as fallible and indistinguishable from secularism. 

CALLED FORWARD IN CHRIST

We are called to be sons and daughters of the living Christ. We cannot grow in Christ if we are climbing a ladder of egocentrism. The boastful soul does not become vanquished until we have received a heart of humility in God the Father. We receive this humility when we’ve had enough of ourselves. It took me into my twenties before I had had enough of the way I was living without faith in Christ.

Moving forward in faith means letting go of the self to make room for Christ. In gaining Jesus, we embrace a new perspective, healthier relationships, more fulfilling desires, and a deeper sense of purpose than we could have imagined was possible.

TAKEN OVER BY FAITH

Altruism merely becomes the floorboards of the character we are called into through Jesus. In directing others back to Him, we express to the world how belief in Christ needs to be. When we understand the love of God, we don’t miss our old selves, rather, we beg for more of His heart to flood our own—and this, truly, is the sweetest form of desperation in this life we will ever come face-to-face with.

CONNECT WITH ME

If you resonated with this article and would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LancePriceBlog, Instagram at lancepriceblog, Pinterest at LancePriceBlog, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog. Feel free to leave any thoughts or feelings regarding this article in the comments below, or write me privately using my Contact page. May God bless you, readers! Opaque
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24 thoughts on “A Christian Dilemma: Hypocrisy Vs. Authenticity

  1. Wow, thank you for your honesty on this matter. We as Christ’s followers must not be caught up in the name calling and divisive attitudes, trying to always prove our point and prove our position, that this world is caught up in. Those behaviors prove the unbelievers that our faith isn’t anything better than what they have. As you said, it’s only in letting go of ourselves – letting go of our need to be right, our need to prove ourselves – and living a life dedicated to Christ when people will see the true attraction of the cross of Christ and a life lived following Him. I’m encouraged. Thank you, and bless you as you tackle more topics like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! You hit my point right on the nail. 🙂 I’m glad what I wrote made sense and that you relate to its message. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Jessica! I’m so glad this encouraged you. 🙂 Your words mean a lot and I am excited to continue on topics such as these as the Lord calls me into (writer) action. God bless you, and thank you again for your comment!

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  2. Wow, so much goodness here, Lance! Gotta say though, the very last line was my favorite: “…and this, truly, is the sweetest form of desperation in this life we will ever come face-to-face with.”
    Thank you so much for sharing at the #warriorlinkup ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a powerful piece! I really like your definition of Christianity, and it is so true that when our hearts are truly transformed by Christ, we leave our old selves behind, and our lives become “all-consuming, all-renewing, and fully satiating.” Praise be to God!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t my problem is expecting someone who is Christian to be perfect. I think it’s the idea of “I’m worthy to go to Heaven (that I believe in not necessarily you) because I love Jesus but you’re going to hell because you’re a sinner and won’t accept Christ into your heart (even though you don’t believe in hell). I feel if more Christians aimed to accept other religions, as you mentioned, as there and actually worked to be kind and loving people then I would feel more comfortable with Christianity as a whole. But I feel the whole thing is assuming others have to believe in a heaven or hell or must be Christians otherwise you need saving instead of understanding there’s more than one way for someone to be spiritually “saved”.

    I did enjoy the article, and I actually agreed with a few points, but I’ve personally had too much religious trauma from Christian branches to move towards practicing again. If there was more acceptance, openmindedness, and less hypocrisy from some practitioners I’d be more for it.

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    1. Rachel, I deeply appreciate your stopping by and reading this. Based on your response, there are a few points I would like to bring up and speak into, and in so doing, perhaps challenge your point of view. I would like to do this in as loving of a way as possible, because I honestly just want to understand you better.
      First (if I read your message correctly), if the Heaven you believe in is, as you say, different from the one I believe in, how do you define being “worthy”? Who or what defines what makes you worthy or unworthy if our ‘Heavens’ are different? If they are different, why do you need to be worthy to go there? What is your impression of the reason I need to be worthy to go to my version of Heaven? Perhaps if we can start there, we might be able to take a step forward.
      Secondly, you mention that you believe there is more than one way for someone to be spiritually saved. Where did you learn about these ways, and what are they? How do you know you can trust the sources which gave you that promise? Also, are these ways about “performance”? (i.e. You do ‘this’, and you get a reward, etc.)
      Thirdly, a major message I wanted to convey in this article is that people who claim to be Christians but who are closed-minded and would rather argue to win than to help you understand their faith more clearly, are likely “Vampire Christians”: They accept Jesus’s blood but not His invitation into a new life; they go to church and claim the title but don’t walk the walk.
      Basically, Rachel, if you’re basing your opinion of Christianity off of those who do not want to hear where you’re coming from, don’t. 😉 My suggestion is that you consider that those who won’t listen to you or who are closed-minded an unhelpful unreliable source from which to discern Christianity. Also, I would like to extend empathy to you and say how sorry I am that you have experienced religious trauma; I was an atheist for most of my life, never taking faith or religious anything seriously. I received condemnation for my lack of faith as well, and it made me hate it even more. So I don’t blame you for being not only skeptical, but distant. I don’t want to push you, I only want to invite you to be as open-minded as you would like the Christians you have met to be, and come to understand in your own way that what you have experienced isn’t authentic Christianity. Christianity is open-minded enough to understand that we love others because Jesus first loved us. We don’t go to Heaven because we’re better, believers believe in going to Heaven because Jesus calls us there through faith in Him (relationship with Him–not just professing “I’m a Christian!” and living a rebelliously sinful life). Please let me know if this makes sense to you, or if you have any other questions/thoughts. I would be absolutely humbled if I could help make any of this make more sense for you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here! I truly appreciate you reading and commenting. 🙂
      I hope you don’t mind me saying that I am praying for God to bring clarity into any confusion you have about Him, Jesus, or faith itself. I hope you will find the answers you’re seeking, if not here, then through authentic Christians who want the very best for you and your spirit/soul. God bless!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this article and that you took the time to expand on such an important discussion that really is not going on in the world today, but should be.

    The resounding problem here is that Christians are failing to have a close and personal relationship with Jesus through talking with and walking with Him daily, and most importantly being led through the scripture that He has provided for us. It is the church’s fault that people believe the crazy idea that if you are a Christian then you must be perfect. The reality is simple, Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins because we are incapable of being perfect and He did not want an eternity separated from us. But for some insane reason, the church today is leaving Jesus out of the equation, and that is where everything gets lost in translation. He is the key! He is the truth! He is the answer. He is everything and we are nothing without Him.

    Really great post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lance – there is so much richness in what you wrote in this post. I especially loved this line: “While we do not carry the responsibility of every believer in this world, we do bear the witness of every unbeliever in this world” It is so true – once when searching for a illustration to go with on of my sermons I read about a story and the gist of it was that people may never pick up a Bible to read, but they are viewing our lives as believers. We, you and I may be the only gospel others read. How are we representing Jesus. Thanks for linking up to #TuneInThursday last week, I had a speaking engagement this past weekend and it has put me behind in my comments. Sorry,, but I look forward to having you share more this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie, it’s always a wonderful blessing to read a comment from you. I’m so glad to know that you read this and took something positive and relevant away. Your words have such truth to them–for so many people, believers ARE the Gospel, since they may never pick up the Word, itself. Such a good point!! It’s such a pleasure of mine to linkup with your site! May God bless you, and I look forward to sharing more seeing more of you as well! 🙂

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  7. If only perfection happened at the moment of salvation. Wouldn’t that be nice! After our second birth comes sanctification until we die – and then perfection. 🙂 Thank you for the reminder that the Christian life is more about humility and Christ filling us up than puffing ourselves up and turning our noses up at unbelievers. There has to be balance between standing up for what’s right and humbly loving others. Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading this, Brandi! Completely agree with you about sanctification, what gifts we receive in this life are the prelude to perfection in the next. Thank you for your words and taking the time to soak up this article. God bless!

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  8. The temptation to hypocrisy is so real in parenting. We focus on behavior because it’s what we can see, but the real issue is with the heart. May God give us grace and patience to pray for the true fruit of righteousness in our kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your words, Michele. We play a HUGE role for kids in the way we express how faith has impacted us as adults. God can bless children through us, and we do bear that responsibility. What an important responsibility it is! May God give us grace, indeed. God bless, Michele!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a great read. When I first came to Christ, the unbelievers in my life thought I must be perfect, and when I failed I think they looked down upon me even more. I loved this line, “Being a Christian means humbly pursuing Him and coming back to Him when I lose track of that pursuit.” I go to Him in humility every day. Thanks for sharing at #glimpses this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbie, I’m so glad you were able to resonate with those words in this article. We are always a living example for others to know how Christ works through us, but we never have to perform. We just need to allow Jesus to work through us. So many Christians misunderstand this, and I hope we can have our eyes opened to the awesome humility in knowing that following Jesus means we point to Him; we aren’t attempting to BE Him. That is impossible. But Jesus can do wonders through an obedient servant. 🙂 God bless you, Barbie!

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