Everybody hates a hypocrite. Someone who says one thing and does another.
What’s also funny is that most people have a general idea of what a Christian should be like, so they know when you generally don’t behave like one. Interesting, huh?
Even the most unchurchy street person knows when someone who claims to be a Christian behaves unbecoming of the reputation of Jesus Christ. They might not be able to tell you how Jesus (or one of his true followers) ought to behave. But they know instantly when you don’t!
I could spend forever talking about instances when people can be “un-Christ like.” I’m sure there’s no shortage of examples. The most obvious are things like a priest abusing a child, or a minister publically berating someone, or a church elder embezzling church funds. The list goes on.
These scandals are all the worse because, inherently, we know that these people are supposed to represent God. If God’s people do such things, the thinking goes, God must be a jerk. Ergo, I want nothing to do with God, or church, or Christians.
This is a real problem. Christians owe a lot of people a lot of apologies. And a lot of restitution.
I can’t address every single “for instance,” but let me talk about a few principles Jesus gave us for daily life, that if we actually consider ourselves Christ-followers, we would do. And they would revolutionize our lives.
The Golden Rule
Most hypocrisy would be cured with Jesus’ simple statement, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31
Try it. Really, try it.
Don’t cut off other motorists. Don’t crowd busy intersections at rush hour. Let that other guy go first at the check-out line.
If you hate it when people do it to you, don’t do it. But not only passive; be active. If you wish someone would do it for you, do it for someone else! Jesus command was positive, not negative.
This will stop you from embezzling, and being rude to the rude waitress. Come on, if you were having a hard day, imagine if someone just gave you extra patience. Try it for someone else!
If you wish people would say nice things about you behind your back, say nice things about other people behind theirs.
It’s not enough to say you’re sorry when you’ve screwed up (and let’s face it, we all do at some point or another). You have to make it right.
I can steal your car, feel bad about it, and apologize. But it would mean a whole lot more to you if I just gave you your car back, wouldn’t it.
I could apologize and feel bad about slandering you; but it would mean a whole lot more if I went around to everyone affected by my slander and apologized, said I was wrong, and then said something positive about you instead. Then I would have taken steps to make it right again.
Jesus saw a tax collector (notorious in those days for over charging, and keeping the extra for themselves), and said,
‘ “Zacchaeus… I must stay at your house today.” So he … welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:5-10
It takes humility to admit you were wrong, and to make it right. But here’s a news flash, Jesus was the most humble person of all …emptying himself of his godly nature and taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2). If anyone had the right to stand on a soap box and condemn people for being mess-ups, it was the Son of God. But instead he humbled himself to experience the human condition, and still showed us the better way!
Christians are humans too. Chances are they’ll screw up like everybody else. But make it right!
And P.S. the better you get at practicing the Golden Rule, the less likely it will be that you’ll need to make restitution. Just sayin…