Yes, the church is full of hypocrites.
Maybe you have been looking for that perfect reason not to go to church. Or, you just need some space from those “other” Christians. You know who I’m talking about.
No worries – I understand what you’re trying to say. Church is “okay”, but you like it better an arms distance away. There when you need it. But deep down, all those reasons you have been coming up with sound too much like excuses.
The church is full of hypocrites
I am going to share two specific, actionable steps that you can begin to take today. Let’s turn these excuses into something that feels much more reasonable.
1. Focus on Christians’ imperfections
A hypocrite is someone whose life contradicts what he says and believes. When it comes to Christians, there will be a lot of hypocrisy to focus on. They are flawed and imperfect humans, constantly making mistakes. The key is to:
- Focus on their every imperfection and mistake.
- Ignore what Christ does in them despite their imperfections.
Warning: If you spend any time with Christians, there is a chance you will hear the term “body of Christ”. Be careful. The more you understand this concept, the harder it becomes to focus on their imperfections.
The body of Christ describes the church – each member united together toward one purpose. In Christ, they have access to his never-ending, sin-cleansing blood. As long as you ignore this, focusing on imperfections will be easy.
In 1941, C.S. Lewis found a series of correspondence between two tempters – Wormwood and his uncle Screwtape. Screwtape’s advice about Wormwood’s “patient” is invaluable:
When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like “the body of Christ” and the actual faces in the next pew.
2. Don’t settle on a church
You will hear many arguments for “settling” on a church:
- You become a part of a family.
- You can build deeper relationships with other Christians.
- You will become accountable to the other members and leadership.
If you want distance between yourself and these hypocrites, you want no part of a “family” or “relationship”. Compare this to the arguments for not plugging into a church.
- You will find it easier to be critical of the church.
- You will have more clarity to focus on individual’s imperfections.
- You will feel more superior pointing out every single flaw.
By not committing to a congregation, it makes easing into this excuse reason much easier. Even Screwtape himself endorses this method:
Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that “suits” him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
Summary: Stay Critical
The church is a diverse group of people full of imperfections and flaws. All united in Christ, washed in His blood, and strengthened with His might.
If you want no part of this, ignore the larger purpose of the church. Ignore what Christ is doing. Ignore how Christ uses broken, dirty people to do glorious, world-impacting things. Even Screwtape describes the church as:
…spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.
Keep that picture invisible in your mind. Push it to the side. Stay critical. And the “church-is-full-of-hypocrites” will sound much more convincing.
Screwtape would agree.
P.S. You may have noticed that the weekly Friday Compilation is missing from the blog. It still comes out Friday, but it has become subscriber-exclusive content!