A Christian Dilemma: Hypocrisy Vs. Authenticity

How can we explain the contention between the believer who fails to exemplify his faith through word and action, and the unbeliever who looks down on faith as a fallacy of the age—judging the believer based on the very moral and spiritual grounds they claim to reject in the first place? I would like to take a closer look at this issue here.

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 automatically perfect. The reason this is a fallacy is because no one belief makes a person perfect. Digging deeper still reveals the imperative argument demanding a definition for human “perfection.” Some might expect perfection to come in the form of character or moral pursuit—and if this is so, what does a perfect character with scrupulous moral pursuits look like?  

In my 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 to do that. Being a Christian means 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 capable of and willing to extend mercy, grace, and love through sacrificing Himself in order to prevent us from experiencing the eternal judgment that we actually deserve.”

That said, I do not believe faith makes any person perfect; we’re all capable of and prone to flaws—before and after faith. A person’s faith, if anything, gives them more reason to predict their failure to ever become perfect by humbly admitting their need for a Messiah in Christ. Again, if anything, a Christian recognizes more so their need for a Messiah in Christ because of their imperfections. In other words, Christianity doesn’t perfect; it humbles. Where do people get this idea that Christ-followers believe they have everything figured out? From Christians who project their faith as the moral insignia of pride. Let me explain.

MORAL DOMINANCE & FIGHTING THE WRONG BATTLE

When a Christ-follower gets caught in the trap of believing faith-based morality is grounds for ostracism or for criticizing the unbeliever, the humility of their faith as been compromised for the pride in their choices. The tragedy is divulged in how a Christian disparaging atheism’s lack of belief is no more effective or correct than an unbeliever condemning Christianity’s open-mindedness. What needs to be noted here is the dichotomy revealing how the misplaced disparaging of the atheist’s lack of belief allows no room for humility or compassion in the censorious believer. Capitalizing on the belief that one is more right than another does nothing short of mistakenly prove to the unbeliever that what is most important to the Christian is their pride in their beliefs and how it trumps doubt, when in fact the fight is taking place on a different battlefield altogether: The believer is convinced proving their belief to be correct is more important than being a living example of how faith in Jesus as Lord changes one’s life from the inside—which has nothing at all to do with winning arguments, but renewing hearts

The abusive treatment of the believer towards the atheist is ultimately the grounds for which the unbeliever blindly claims faith is a transparent fallacy. Understandably, from this perception—the source of the believer’s faith seems grounded in judgment, condemnation, prideful morality, and the careless freedom to live in the name of a faith which seemingly has no impact on behavior, words, thoughts, or interactions. In other words, a faith which has no bearing on renewing a person’s intrinsic humanity or lifestyle.

THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTIAN METAPHORS 

There are a lot of metaphors used in Christianity. Why? There is a larger reality within grasp which does not present itself to the naked human eye—that which is tangible through the senses of faith itself. What does this mean? This means that the purpose of metaphors in Christianity is to examine that which we can barely fathom with our intellect or imagination, let alone our senses. Not to be misperceived as impossible to the imagination, Heaven itself is used both as a metaphor for the fantastical (where the very nature of painlessness and deathlessness coexist with permanent bliss and happiness) which can be sourced within our very soul through faith in Christ; as well as a literal place and location. Metaphors are not used to divide the truth of the Bible from reality, but to express how such extremities can only be gathered by taking a leap of faith out of our expectations and comfort zones and placing ourselves into the space of hope. Hope for something beyond words, beyond this reality; transcendence.

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 this happens, pride takes the position of one the four aforementioned reflections of self-worth. But when a believer’s self-worth is not rooted in Christ, it is automatically rooted in the neediness of the world. How then can we be reborn if we still cling to the world? We cannot. We either surrender ourselves by intrinsically and authentically picking up our cross and following Him (rebirth), or we end up abandoning our cross for someone else to bear and call them weak when they won’t even carry their own (claiming the “Christian” title without “walking the walk” of a relationship with Jesus). 

CHRISTIAN FACADES AND PLURALISM

The choice we make (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 assumes this contradiction to be the face of all Christ-followers. 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 seriously our own faith, we leave room for the unbeliever to view the Christian faith as fallible and indistinguishable from secularism. Pluralism itself is made to look foolishly redundant in the face of Christian hypocrisy as the multifarious religious views suddenly blur together into one conglomeration; a mirage of people pretending rather than rebirthing, clutching for dear life their mental volition instead of surrendering their hearts; closing their eyes rather than opening their minds, and believing in the self—which ultimately deteriorates the soul and crushes our most intrinsic need for selfless, unconditional human connection. 

CALLED FORWARD IN CHRIST

We are called to be sons and daughters of the living Christ. We can complicate the picture of what that looks like, or we can come to grips with the reality that it requires a heart full of humility. We cannot grow in Christ if we are climbing a ladder of egocentrism. Even in faith, the boastful soul does not become vanquished until we have received a heart of humility in God the Father. We receive this when we’ve had enough of ourselves. I found myself dead inside during my adolescence and desperately craved a purpose by the time I was 22. I found that purpose in Christ, but only after I realized I needed to let go of my self-made purpose, which ultimately was disguised in self-deprecation and the turmoil of this world.

Moving forward in faith means letting go of the self to make room for Christ, and in so doing, His thoughts become more of our own. We lose nothing—we gain everything. We gain a new perspective, healthier relationships, more fulfilling desires, and a deeper sense of purpose than we could have imagined was possible. Moving forward in faith—to be taken over by such an abundance of surrender, we completely lose ourselves to the call of Christ to run beyond our self-preserved path of narcissistic hedonism, ahead into the light of recognizing our need—not for the world’s attention or validation, but God’s promises to make us new, to make us right, and to fulfill us completely

TAKEN OVER BY FAITH

If we truly have been changed, what does that look like? Compassion, grace, mercy, love, peace, empathy, boldness, faithfulness, gratefulness, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, and selflessness. Altruism merely becomes the floorboards of the character we are called into through Jesus. In so shining our light back to Him, we do not mistake what our faith translates into, but we express to the world how belief in Christ needs to be: All-consuming, all-renewing, and fully satiating. When we understand the love of God, we don’t miss our old selves, 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.

LET’S CONNECT

If you resonated with this article and would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this article with the people around you. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog 2017, Twitter at LPBlog2017, Instagram at LPBlog2017, Pinterest at Lance Price Blog 2017, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog2017. Please feel free to leave your thoughts or any questions you may have in the comments below. May God remind us all that the picture of Christianity looks like Jesus. Be blessed, readers!!

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Darling Downs Diaries

Author: Lance Price Blog 2017

Something I’ve loved to do since I was in High School is write. What starting off as as merely poetry transitioned into a more serious passion. Now, as a blogger, I want my writing to help people understand themselves, others, and Jesus in fresh ways that maybe they hadn’t understood before. My sincerest hope is that my writing will be an inspiration, and a means of encouragement for those who are going through a hard time—whether it be related to trauma, spiritual crisis, or an issue regarding family/divorce and relationships. I also mean for my articles to act as a boost of confidence for those who are already riding the waves of optimism, joy, and hope. You'll also notice my new "Movie Reviews" page, which will be made up of my movie critiques. Though these are not the same as my blog posts in the sense that they are not Jesus-based but movie-based, I will still review films from an open-minded Christian standpoint. Above all else, as a Christ follower, I hope my faith will permeate the words of my articles and encourage others to follow the Lord of salvation, love, grace, mercy, empowerment, forgiveness, and eternal life. I hope the very best comes from reading what I write and that these goals are met through the hearts of readers being challenged and changed for the best. Thank you for reading!

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 ❤

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  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!

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  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. 🙂

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  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.

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    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.

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    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!

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  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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