Maybe someone has said that to you before: "I thought you were supposed to be a Christian?" Maybe you have thought that about someone else before. Either way, it is a very common accusation levelled at Christians; that their lives do not line up with their beliefs, or simply, that they are hypocrites. In fact, a recent Australian study (http://olivetreemedia.com.au/the-apologetics-series.aspx) revealed that the number 2 "blockage" for people to come to Church was because of alleged hypocrisy amongst church leaders and people in the pews. Hypocrisy is a legitimate concern for those outside the church and in our schools and workplaces.
Luckily, it was also a legitimate concern for Jesus. Jesus had some harsh words for those who indulged in hypocrisy. In Matthew 6 Jesus condemns the way the Pharisees pray ostentatiously in public and make a big scene of their giving and fasting. Jesus calls them hypocrites, which actually means "to play a part" or "to pretend." Jesus is saying that the Pharisees were more interested in the praise of men than the praise of God. They were performing, as it were, for the applause and approval of the crowd rather than of God, who sees in secret (Mt. 6:4; 6; 18).
We face the very same temptation. We sometimes believe that we have to "play" the "Christian part" on a Sunday. We believe we have to come to church with our "happy" or our "holy" mask on. We feel we have to hide what is really going on for fear of judgement or condemnation.
But this is the opposite of the message of the gospel and what the church of Jesus Christ is called to be. The church is not a museum of saints but a sanctuary for sinners. The cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God's declaration to the world that you need a Saviour. That you will fall short.
That's why it is silly to pretend. God has already outed you. By wearing a mask and merely playing the church part, you are actually running away from the grace of God and perpetuating the myth that church is for good people and that Christians are hypocrites. But when we find refuge in God's grace and take off the mask, not only do we find peace but we become an attractive and authentic community for those watching on.
It's my sincere prayer that BPCC would be an authentic gospel community where we not only proclaim the gospel but also apply it to each other's hearts and lives. We should remind ourselves daily, like Tim Keller says, that: "I have a relationship with Christ not because I'm good but precisely because I am not good. He rescued me from myself and the ruin I was causing. But He's changing me. I'm still a mess, but I'm God's mess."
If you want to hear more about how to respond to the perception that "Christians are hypocrites" we'd love for you to come to PM Church tonight at 6PM as we explore this pressing issue as part of our "unChristian" series.