Several times I've seen my Facebook friends share the post, “Not going church because there are hypocrites is like not going to the gym because there are out of shape people.” There are variations of the one on the left.
I think that’s a fair rebuttal, but it’s not really getting at the heart of the issue. In my observation, many don’t want to go to church because, like a gym, it’s full of mirrors.
The main reason many people avoid church is not because of the hypocrites. Everyone knows not to expect perfection or even a great amount of consistency from his or her neighbors. Hypocrisy is anticipated.
Many people avoid church because it’s a place where they are confronted with an everlasting truth. The truth calls for their self-created philosophies to die. They’re not avoiding hypocrites, they’re avoiding holiness. They are avoiding a God who wants to save them and change them by His grace. They like their own gods.
Hearing the word of God preached and taught causes a person to consider what’s in his heart. Church is (or should be) a place where truth is upheld andproclaimed unabashedly. As this Scripture goes out, the thoughts and intents of the heart are discerned, getting to the core of a man. The Holy Spirit uses that moment to convict the hearers of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
This is precisely why so many people don’t like mirrors. Looking into the mirror causes people to judge themselves. There are certain ideals concerning body type and overall health and most fall short of those standards. The mirror reveals this, presenting an unarguable truth. People have to deal with that reflection of reality.
Scripture is a mirror in that sense. Truth is pitted against sin and God steps in as Judge. As the Word, the truth of God, penetrates the dark storehouses of a person’s desires, a decision must be made: repent inbrokenness or suppress the truth and replace it with a lie.
Interestingly, this description is the basis of who the people of God are as fallen humans. God’s adopted children are faced with the same decision point as everyone else: repent or die. They are called to come to Him broken, knowing they don’t measure up, knowing they’ve rebelled against Him and have created their own gods. They know they fall short. They know their hearts are dark. But those who follow Christ desire to be changed by the truth, and day by day, as He works His perfect will in them.
So from the outside, yes, Christians are hypocrites; however, on the inside, they are those who are being changed moment by moment into the image of Christ, in spite of the sin they bring to the table. They have been confronted with truth and desire to submit to it. They’re not looking for a truth that fits their lifestyle, they’re looking for a truth that exists outside ofthemselves in order to know a God who exists eternally. That's what a Christian is.
And the church is for them, not for anyone else. Church is for those who have been called by Christ, not those who reject Him; in fact, believers are the Church. Understanding this makes it obvious as to why so many people don't want to be there: they hate being confronted with His truth. God's people crave it and He built the Church based on it. The world rejects it and finds excuses to avoid it.
Perhaps you are just now learning this – regardless of your religious beliefs. Take a moment to reflect on it. You might have been avoiding church because of the hypocrisy. Think through that.
Are you really worried about someone else’s hypocrisy or do you know the depths of your own?
Are you really turned off by the actions of others or are you afraid God is calling you to change your own?
Not going to church because broken, messed up people are there is like not looking in the mirror because you’ll be there.
2 Corinthians 3 seems to sum this up well: