This doesn’t just mean Christians. If your standards are high enough, you are going to fall short of them sometimes. I mean, it’s easy not to be a hypocrite if you don’t have any standards at all. No one can accuse you of saying one thing and doing another, because you don’t have anything to fall short of. When someone says, “Hey, you’re acting like a jerk!” you can always say, “So? I’m not a good person, and I’m okay with that.”
I know some people like that. I won’t say their lives are any easier, but no one can accuse them of being a hypocrite unless they espouse some sort of values or beliefs.
And you can always have a really low standard for living: “I believe as long as you don’t kill or rape anyone, you’re not that bad of a person.” Well, let’s hope we don’t meet people who are hypocrites when it comes to that profession.
So the first reason Christians are hypocrites is because they have really high ideals that are easy to fall short of. If you say, “I believe lusting after a guy or girl is wrong,” then it’s pretty easy to be a hypocrite. And when you take it even further along the things Jesus teaches: “Love your enemies… give to everyone who asks of you… be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect…” now you’re dealing with a high standard that it can be pretty easy to fall short of.
It’s a wonder that any Christian thinks there are Christians who aren’t hypocrites.
Of course, that doesn’t really satisfy us. We’re looking for an answer to how someone who has stood beneath the Cross, with all the infinite love and mercy of God crashing down on them, can lift their hands and hearts in worship… then act in a way that doesn’t look very much like Jesus at all. If you know many Christians, then you also know many who don’t act like they know Jesus.
Sometimes the reason they act that way is because they really haven’t encountered the grace of God. The Bible talks about those:
“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;” – Jude 12
I’m sure you’ve met some “fruitless trees” before. They go through the motions, attend church functions, and look like everyone else during worship… but they’ve never really met Jesus for themselves and have not experienced his transforming power.
Then there are those who are the real deal. They know Jesus, worship God and love him, and they still betray the things they claim to believe, bringing a reproach on the Good News. People are left wondering, “What good is believing in Jesus if He can’t make his believers any good?”
Well, the sad truth is that sometimes we believers suck. The One we believe in is awesome and beautiful and so, so worthy of… just… everything. And we’re not. And we struggle with this. And if it’s a mystery to us now, it was just as much a mystery to the apostle Paul.
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” – Romans 7:18-21
It doesn’t seem like it should be a struggle. We’ve been set free from the Law of Sin and Death, so why do we still do things that label us hypocrites? Were we tempted, drawn away by our own selfish desires? Did we go so long without real, intimate fellowship with the Spirit of God that we became weak, like Green Lanterns that went too long without charging their power rings? It’s all of those things. Is it possible to not be a hypocrite, but to actually live the high standard we profess? Yes, absolutely. Not by ourselves, but by Christ who lives in us.
There are thousands of ways to fall, but only One who can pick us back up.
Why are we hypocrites? Well, what is the definition of hypocrite? The dictionary states it as “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.”
Let’s start back in Genesis with The Fall (Genesis 3). When Adam brought sin into the world by biting into the fruit, we all have been cursed. None of us can be perfect, no matter how hard we try.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
With that established, why are Christians hypocrites? I am going to answer this with the intent of saying all Christians are legitimately striving to live for God and are not Christian Atheists.
Christians profess to follow Jesus and live how the Bible tells us to and yet they still sin. I tell people that I choose not to cuss, because we are to be in this world and not of it. Yet, it still happens. Not frequently and certainly not on purpose. I shake my head at myself when I do it too. I am doing the opposite of what I told others I don’t do. How hypocritical of me. Why do I do that?
Why are fingers pointed at Christians? Well, we are held to a higher standard due to who we say we follow. Following the sinless Jesus who died on the cross for our sins not only puts a target on our back, but also has us under the microscope. Every thing we do in the public eye is scrutinized, even if it really is an accident. The best comparison I have is how TMZ is constantly watching celebrities for every little thing they do and criticizing them.
As cheesy as it is I can hear Uncle Ben from the original Spider-Man movie say, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
There is really nothing you can do besides do your best to follow Christ and show His love for others. No matter what we cannot live up to the high standards that the world places on Christians.