I believe the most damaging attribution of disbelief in Christianity today is hypocrisy. What I find most tragic is that it’s one of the most discussed topics in the Bible, yet many Christians, both practicing and passive, make the decision that integrity is secondary to personal blessings (“being God’s child” or “claiming authority”), being right (“rightly dividing the Word”), and hanging out exclusively with other Christians (“fellowshipping” or “being in the world, but not of the world”).
Yet these are the very things the much maligned Pharisees do in Matthew 23:
– They do things for others to see.
– They love the place of honor.
– They sit in the important seats at synagogue.
– They enjoy being called “Rabbi.”
– They teach the law, but don’t follow it
Essentially, the Pharisees in Scripture emphasize their position as the authority, teach the law at the expense of their own practice, and hang out at the synagogue.
Years ago, I had a youth group going, and what a powerhouse group it was. Many of the kids had a genuine zeal for the Lord, desiring only to grow and become more like Jesus every week. When that all ended, however, many of the kids gradually walked away from the church. While I still have contact with several of them, all of them adults now, they appear to want nothing to do with church or God. They’ve become content with living their lives differently than what we had taught them as teens.
What happened? Did we help them understand how important their salvation is and point out the benefits of being a child of God? Without a doubt. Did we accurately teach the Bible and explain what the Scriptures meant? Every time. We taught some incredibly difficult books, in fact. And how about fellowship? We hung out all the time, coming to group early and leaving late, heading over to In-N-Out almost weekly, spending time at events and camps without ceasing.
Again, what happened? The full answer is probably complicated, but I would not be surprised if it began with doubt, rooting from a Christian’s lack of integrity and a questioning of God’s influence on an individual’s life. Everyone is prone to error, but a consistent lifestyle contradicting what Jesus teaches can be a serious detriment to others.
This isn’t exactly news for a lot of Christians, so I’ll keep it brief: walk with integrity. Think about what you say. Be as transparent as possible. If you blow it, admit it. You might be the example to hold someone together.
This guy does a good treatment of how the old Pharisees pimped their phylacteries.