Happy Sunday! Church- apparently the only place with hypocrites. When people are asked why they hate going to church, their first response most often is “there are just too many hypocrites”. You heard this excuse so often it might seem safe to presume that church is the only environment where hypocrites congregate! However, we know that’s not true! Wherever there are people there will be hypocrisy because people are inconsistent: personal trainers eat junk food, teachers use their phones, and some doctors and nurses smoke. It’s no shock that people don’t always practice what they preach and inconsistencies between what is said and what is done is a norm we all have to endure. So what’s with bashing the church on hypocrisy? Well, it really comes down to this little thing called subculture.
Christian subculture could be a Bible unto itself with all its how to’s and what to do’s and what not to do. Anyone who grew up in church knows the subculture like the back of your hand. You watched Facing the Giants at youth group, you went to youth group, you listened (or listen) to TobyMac and Chris Tomlin, and read lessons out of the weekly Sunday school booklet. Luckily for people entering their 20s, our teen years came after the hay day of purity rings and WWJD wristbands (thank god!), but Christian subculture is still alive and well, and it hinders many who wish to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. How? Here’s my thoughts:
Down Right Happy All The Time
You know that song “since Jesus Christ came in/ and cleansed my heart from sin/ I’m in right out right up right down right happy all the time!” wonderful as that sounds, it’s just not true. Jesus came and cleansed my heart, yes, but I sure as heck am not happy all the time. Life is hard and unfair, people hurt you, dreams go unfulfilled, marriages fail, and our government is broken. This isn’t pessimistic, it’s reality. Jesus will come again and fix the world for good, and He still works miracles even in this broken one, but that doesn’t mean Christians are immune to sadness. I know these lyrics were taken from a children’s song, but the words of mainstream Christian pop aren’t much better. Take “Beautiful Day” by artist Jamie Grace:
“And, oh, there’s something ’bout the way
Your sun shines on my face
It’s a love so true I can never get enough of You
This feeling can’t be wrong I’m about to get my worship on
Take me away
See? Always happy, no matter what comes. Always joyful is biblical, always happy is impractical. It’s easy now to see what non-Christian are talking about when it come to hypocrisy in church. It’s not practical, or even necessary to always have a smile on your face. If someone is always happy all the time he or she doesn’t come across as real, only robots only have one mode. Humans have feelings and we serve a God who understands them. He doesn’t cater to them, but he knows the pain that comes with suffering, and like any good father, He cares enough to bear them with us.
Religion vs Reality
Now, there shouldn’t be a competition, religion should be a part of your reality and reality your religion, and that’s where Christian subculture really drops the ball. The Christian subculture doesn’t reflect the reality of the mass majority of humans on planet earth, but the gospel did! The gospel is relateable to every person who has ever lived. The Great Commission to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations works because the gospel is applicable to all nations. Christian subculture, however, applies to certain people.
When you think of the “average” Christian, you most likely think of someone who is white, middle class, with a couple family issues and a bad relationship or two under their belt. Clearly they’ve been through a lot (laugh with me). It’s hard for someone who is in poverty, who’s been severely abused, who grew up in a rough neighborhood or whose family is a dysfunctional mess to relate to the warm, flowery messages taught on Sunday morning because it simply doesn’t reflect their reality. Messages that sound like the moral lesson at the end of a Full House episode does very little to stir up a battered heart for the sake of the gospel. It’s very easy for the “average” Christian to talk about grace, love and forgiveness because their life is pretty good. Loving their enemies means that rude person on their job, not a sexually abusive father. Giving thanks in all circumstances means even when you get a bad gift on Christmas, not when a loves one loses their life to police brutality. Standing up for the gospel means taking a few snickers and sneers from classmates, not being shot by a firing squad or hung without trial. In the modern church culture, faith is only talked about, never tested, making faith a statement, not a lifestyle.
Christians cannot afford to be fake, it costs too many souls. The gospel much be preached in it’s effective entirety, only then will it reach all people. The body of Christ is an army of soldiers, imperfect, flawed, but strong and resilient. We bear one another’s burdens as we fight the good fight, without judgement, but in love. We don’t need a flowery church body, we need a real one. God can and will work through the church as is, and there are always advances being made in the kingdom, but we are not void of responsibility when it comes to reaching souls. That is the Great Commission right? Until next time, keep praying and fighting, and watch God work.