Ten Questions: #8 and #9 – Christian Hypocrites Are Often Judgmental

Full questions:

#8. How can I trust in Christianity when so many Christians are hypocrites?

#9. Why are Christians to judgmental toward everyone who doesn’t agree with them?

Summary

  • Mittelberg begins by relating how an actor’s job is to portray someone based on a script and story–it’s their job. Our lives should reflect who we really are, not an act!
  • Statistics bear out the sad fact that many who claim to be Christians fail by falling into serious sin.
  • When people express anger at hypocrisy, they are in good company–Jesus directed some of his harshest words at the hypocritical religious leaders of his day.
  • Jesus alone was free from sin. He will never disappoint. The rest of us need to get in line.
  • There is a difference between a struggling but honest believer and a hypocrite who refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing.
  • Judgmentalism can refer to an arrogant and unacceptable “I’m better than you” attitude. Be aware that
    • spiritual confidence can be misconstrued as arrogance.
    • everyone thinks they are right in their own beliefs
  • Point your friends to the truth found in Christ, not other Christians

Introduction

  • Garry Poole provided an interesting perspective on the profession of acting and how they often portray fictional characters. Sidenote: Garry has a great heart for spiritual seekers. Check out his book, Seeker Small Groups: Engaging Spiritual Seekers in Life-Changing Discussions.
  • Headlines remind us all too often when some evangelical leader falls into some kind of serious sin.
    • It’s always a tragedy when a brother or sister falls
    • Even worse is when it affects someone who is seeking the truth in Christ
  • Hypocrite comes from an ancient Greek word that was a technical term for a stage actor. Hypocrites are mask wearers, acting without ever acknowledging that is what they are doing. They are frauds and imposters living a lie. Ouch!
  • Another book, one that we’re using in our small group, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons uses research to show there isn’t much difference between people who claim to be Christians and the rest of the world.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Gandhi

In response: I am not offering you Christians, I am offering you Christ.

Akbar Abdul-Haqq

Halting Hypocrisy

Our friends are not alone in their harsh judgment of hypocrisy: Jesus often dealt with this issue. Matthew 23 records Jesus’ words about hypocrisy and directly points to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.

  • When our friends condemn hypocrisy, they’re actually on Jesus’ side!
  • Jesus is the only perfect example–and therefore the only one who won’t disappoint us. Hebrews 4:15, John 8:46
  • The primary issue regarding the validity of Christianity is not Jesus’ followers but what he offers to those who follow him–the powerful, proven person of Jesus Christ himself.
  • Many hypocrites are only pretending to be God’s people. Titus 1:16, 2 Timothy 3:5
    • Hard to discern at times, but Jesus warned us about this from the beginning: Matthew 24:24-25
  • Hypocrisy comes in degrees–and each of us struggles with some measure of it. Romans 3:23, Colossians 3:12, Ephesians 4:23-24, Philippians 1:6
    • In reality, there should be no surprise that Christians are unable to live up to standards they strive to attain–no one can! We are not perfect. John 3:21
  • Jesus died on the cross to pay for and to free us from our sin–including that of hypocrisy. Don’t miss the verses after John 3:16: John 3:17-18 as well as Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 1:15-16.

A Personal Response

  • As genuine followers of Jesus, we ought to be able to illustrate the difference that knowing him has made in our lives without glossing over the ups and downs we face in trying to follow him.
  • Keep it real. Be vulnerable.
  • Remember the Lord disciplines those he loves. Hebrews 12:5-6, 12

Judging Judgmentalism

  1. What many people react to is a haughty and arrogant attitude that they sometimes see in others. The “holier than thou” attitude. The truth is we’re just blessed to have found what we have in Christ and are privileged to get to share it with them.
  2. Some think we should never say we’re right and somebody else is wrong. See Matthew 7:1. But Jesus clarifies this position in Matthew 7:24. We need to be discerning and not condescending. Serve one another in humility John 8:32.

Tips for Talking About This Issue

  • Be honest about the reality of Christian hypocrisy. Let the hard truth of failures stand.
  • Listen in order to understand. Listen with empathy.
  • Be transparent.
  • As appropriate for the particular situation, be vulnerable about your own struggles.
  • Redirect. Remember that the basis for evaluating Christ must be Christ, not Christians.
  • Accusations of judgmentalism need to be defined.
  • There is no place for spiritual pride in the church.

Questions for discussion

  1. Why is the hypocrisy of Christians such a hot button for unbelievers? Why do you think it bothers them so much to see Christians acting in unchristian ways?
  2. Why do unbelievers hold Christians to such high standards?
  3. Have you ever encountered a hypocritical Christian? Describe the encounter. How did that person’s hypocrisy make you feel?
  4. Why did Jesus speak so sternly about the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day?
  5. Can you share a way you have struggled with hypocrisy? What did you do about it? Can you think of a way to utilize that experience to point people to Christ?
  6. Explain the statement, “Authentic Christ followers understand they are works in progress.” Is that a helpful description or an effort to excuse bad behavior or attitudes? How does this help you talk about the hypocrisy with unbelievers?
  7. Describe the difference between “judgmentalism” and “judging with wisdom and discernment.”

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