How many times have you heard somebody reference the church and the hypocrites that fill it? Churches are filled with imperfect people. Better said, the church has no perfect people. So why the surprise when we are able to find someone imperfect? Even the pastors in every church are human and imperfect. I love the typical response that Ed Young gives when someone makes the statement that, “The church is filled with hypocrites.” He responds by saying, “No its not, there is always room for one more.” The church is filled with real people who have real problems. Other views of the church may be presenting a fake church.
There is a false understanding of church out there that implies it is filled with already perfected people (or people who think they’re perfect). When a Christian is identified that has normal world problems, it must mean they are hypocrites. There is no shortage of humans who still act human inside and outside the church. There is this negative “branding” of Christianity that communicates we are perfect. In reality, Christians should simply be willing to recognize our failure, repent of it, and get back to focusing on serving the Lord.
If our only understanding of what a Christian is, came from the apostles in the New Testament, would we see a church full of perfect people? Far from it. Jesus rebuked them on more than one occasion. They were overly judgmental of sinners (Mark 14), couldn’t follow orders at times, and even reactionary and violent in the garden. The disciples deserted Christ and even lied about knowing Him. Yet they were “apostles.” Paul was a murderer before his encounter with Christ and even afterwards talked about how his spirit was willing but his flesh was weak referencing sin. He asked, “Why do I do the very things I don’t want to do” (Romans 7)?
Being Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect. That is a fake presentation of the Church.
Let’s stop attributing the false notion of perfection to those who attend church. Churches are comprised of real people and even real pastors who have real problems. That false notion of perfection causes some real big issues.
- People who attend church have unrealistic expectations of their fellow attendees even though they themselves cannot live up to the standard of perfection they expect.
- The real problems that real people face get tucked away and hidden because people assume the others around them don’t struggle with those problems.
- Sinners who don’t attend church are less likely to attend it because they assume everyone there judges their imperfections instead of loving and accepting them.
- The world is given tons of ammo to shoot holes in the perception of “good” people attending church. They turn that into a branding of the church being filled with hypocrites.
Like the disciples, we aim to live like Christ. We are a constant work on the
potter’s wheel circling around as our great Potter molds us into what He would have us be. Christians are to “Be holy as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16). That isn’t an immediate thing though just like the pot isn’t complete until the Potter is done and that clay has been molded and gone through the process of being fired.
So what can we do to fix the branding issue that the Church has?
- Stop focusing on everyone else’s imperfections and start spending more time working on your own.
- Let your motto for church attendance be to “Come as you are, love and be loved.”
- Be a Believer whom others can lean on when they are weak, and not worry that you are going to gossip, judge, and condemn them for not being perfect.
- Share testimony and encourage others to share their testimonies of God doing a work in you and not just through you. The enemy will always use secrets to his advantage.
I’m not proposing that because the church is and always will be made up of imperfect people, that we shouldn’t be constantly striving towards perfection. Sin is sin and has no place in the life of a Christian who loves the Lord. The difference is that when we sin, we can be forgiven.
Sin separates us from God, but not from His love.
I love the way my former pastor used to put it. “We don’t believe in ‘Once saved, always saved. But we do believe in ‘Once saved, really saved’” (Jeff Magruder). I’ll leave you with one of the most powerful passages in the entire Bible:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
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