Hypocrisy, Authenticity, and the Measure of Sin

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By David Kinnamen and Gabe Lyons, an excerpt from their book Unchristian. Check out the full article!

There is a twist—a deeper reason why the perception of hypocrisy exists. It’s not just our lifestyles that have gotten us in trouble; it’s the very way in which we convey the priorities of being a Christian. The most common message people hear from us is that Christianity is a religion of rules and regulations. They think of us as hypocritical because they are measuring us by our own standards.

In our research, we asked Christian adults to identify the priorities Christians pursue in terms of their personal faith. We did not prompt any answers; respondents were able to mention anything that came to mind.

What do you imagine was the most common response?

It was lifestyle—being good, doing the right thing, not sinning.

Christians describe their main faith priority in these terms. Indeed, Christ calls us to be different people, reflected in our lifestyle, so the fact that people are mentioning this is not inherently wrong. Scripture makes it clear that we are to prioritize the “fruit” or outcomes of people’s lives as a measure of their faith (John 15:1–8). The writer James points out that without some way of measuring the reality of our faith (our deeds), faith is nothing more than a series of empty beliefs (James 2:20–26). Remember that spiritual transformation means becoming more like Christ, which includes both living in a holy manner and having the humility to admit we’re not innately good or holy.

Nevertheless, given the pervasive perception that Christians are hypocritical, it is telling that “being good” is the primary way we define what being a Christian is all about. It is also sobering to see how other important passions of a Christ follower are way down the list. The “lifestyle” priority was more frequently mentioned than discipleship—learning about the Bible and about Christ. It was more often included in the definition of being a Christian than were evangelism, worship, or relationships. Serving others and the poor was identified as a main concern by just one-fifth of believers. Thoughts of stewardship or nurturing family faith were almost nonexistent as faith priorities.

Read the complete article.