It’s true. Call us hypocritical, bigoted, self-righteous, goody-two-shoes or egoistical all you want – I’m going to agree with you.
Certainly, there have been people who claimed to be Christian but behaved terribly – inviting accusations of hypocrisy to the general body of believers. But I won’t pretend the rest of us are innocent, because when I was honest with myself, and searched my heart for hypocrisy … I realised I was guilty.
I’ll give you some examples. I turn away when my colleagues start to gossip, but there are still traces of it in the “prayer requests” I share with my Christian friends.
I turn my back on idolatry – refusing to participate in my family’s ancestral worship – but I falter in other ways: Chasing after money, studies, relationships and everything that isn’t God.
I’ve treated people differently because of how they look, what gender they are, what they do … This hypocrite’s list goes on and on.
But self-flagellation isn’t why I’m writing this.
I’m just convicted that my life has so often misrepresented God to others. The Bible tells us that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This means that we are all guilty of at least one sin – at least one misrepresentation of God.
Pastor Tim Keller writes, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
So, the truth of the matter is that I do not know – and will never know – just how wretched I really am.
And yet I’ve been imbued with righteousness by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me. So, despite my brokenness, I will strive for holiness because my life is no longer mine – it belongs to God.
But I can see why Christians would seem self-righteous when we refuse to smoke, swear or gossip. And I can imagine how it might seem like we’re holier-than-thou whenever we pray before meals.
When words aren’t picked correctly, it’s easy to appear lofty and proud when we talk about difficult topics like religion, sexual orientation or humanitarianism.
We are mere beggars telling other beggars where the free food is.
I’ll speak for myself: The heart behind what I do is to please God and be the version of myself He wants me to be.
From Romans 3:23, we have not just “fallen” – but we “fall.” Present tense. We are constantly failing every single day because our souls have been redeemed, but our bodies are not yet regenerated.
Because we are fallen, we will face daily shortcomings – misrepresentations of God for all to see.
WE NEED YOUR FORGIVENESS
My mentor has a saying, “We are mere beggars telling other beggars where the free food is”. In that vein of things, I humble myself – acknowledging that I’m not any better than you – and ask for your forgiveness.
If there was some way I could say this on behalf of all Christians … I am sorry.
I am sorry for being hypocritical. I am sorry for behaving condescendingly toward you. I am sorry that my life did not reflect the words that I spoke, or the beliefs that I hold.
I am sorry that my Monday-Saturday life looks different from the Sunday one. And I am sorry for the painful words – deliberate or not – that I have said to you.
I need your forgiveness.
The Church needs your grace as we sort ourselves out. Even from today, you might continue to see that nothing has changed. You might still be able to see misrepresentations of God in so-called Christians.
Give us grace.
WE NEED GOD’S FORGIVENESS
Jesus was once asked, “Which is the great commandment of the Law?” Jesus’ reply was to love God and to love our neighbours.
A large part of how much we love God can be seen from the way we love our neighbours. The negligence of the second in an attempt to uphold the first only results in hypocrisy.
God, we hypocrites need Your forgiveness.
More than just His forgiveness – we need God Himself. We need Him to help us reach the standards He has set for us. We need Him to empower us daily to be accurate representations of Him – who won’t shame Him.
Only He can show us how to live like Jesus.
Fellow believer, would you take a moment to ask God for forgiveness from hypocrisy? This week, if God leads you to, be challenged to ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve misrepresented God to.