Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hipocrisy: The Challenge to Live Authentically

In his book, “UnChristian,” David Kinnaman and supporting authors along with the Barna Research Group give weight to the subject of how the church and Christians are viewed by those who do not attend church and do not claim to be Christians.  The book is a reality check which I would suggest every Christian to read.  It is a book about perceptions, and although perceptions are not always accurate, the way Christianity is perceived is driving away people by the dozens.
I would offer to suggest that nearly everyone understands what a hypocrite is and that no one, believer or unbeliever, should be a hypocrite.  We should live what we preach and do what we say and walk like we talk.  But we are sinners, no one is perfect.  A contributing author to Kinnaman’s book writes the following.  Please read it, and then read it one more time.  What he has to say in this matter of a perception of hypocrisy is very insightful and challenging.

“What is behind many –not all, but many – charges and accusations against the character and integrity of Christians is the demand for perfection in the life of anyone who claims to be a Christian and urges others to consider Christianity as well.   This is not, of course, the true meaning of a hypocrite, but even more to the point, it is not an accurate understanding of what it means to enter into the Christian life.
                Yet the world holds us to it, because we hold ourselves – and others – to it.  We fall prey to the charge of hypocrisy because we have reduced spirituality to a list of moral benchmarks coupled with a good dose of judgmentalism.
                The only way to regain our footing is to remind ourselves – and others – that an authentic Christian is simply someone who has made the decision to believe in Jesus as his forgiver and then attempt [I would replace “attempt” to “commit”]to follow him as his leader.  But nowhere in this series of events is perfection or sinlessness.  Rather, there is simply the intention effort and sincere desire to recognize God as, well God.
                Simply put, we must stop presenting ourselves as the message and begin presenting Jesus as the message.  There will be disappointment with Christians as long as there are imperfect people.  Since all Christians are imperfect, there will always be disappointment.  So we must stop having the message of Christ tied to our butchered efforts.” (pg. 65,66)

                Basically, what the author is getting as is that we are perceived as hypocrites because we are wearing an un-needed mask.  Should we strive to set an example with our lives how to live as Christ? YES.  But, we are not the example.  The example has already lived, died then rose again, and reigns on high!  The example is well documented for us in the wonderful Word of God!  We can avoid a perception of hypocrisy by living authentically.  This is done by living with integrity, purity, and transparency.  We must call a spade a spade in that we are sinners.  We will fail people just as people will continue to fail us.  But Christ will never fail you!  Let’s actually live like we are pointing people to Christ, and not to our “butchered efforts.”