Calling someone a hypocrite doesn’t say as much about them as it does you. When you call someone a hypocrite you are communicating that you can see someone else’s fault, but may have trouble seeing your own. And doesn’t that make you a hypocrite yourself? Yes, it’s a vicious cycle. When the church calls people infidels, evil-doers, sinners, lost, and other terms we have come up with, we are setting ourselves up to be in a hierarchy where we are at the top and “they” are at the bottom. We have already set up a system of us vs. them. When those outside of Christianity call us hypocrites, Bible-beaters, conservatives, and other terms I’d rather not get into right now, again we have a chasm between us. They don’t want to be a part of us and frankly, we don’t give them the best of ourselves to want to partner with in the first place. When someone calls another person a hypocrite, they communicate that they aren’t seeking to understand or seeking a relationship. They are seeking a defense and creating a barrier. This is why when we are called hypocrites and we enter into a debate about that title, we lose ground quickly. What if instead of defending our reputation after being labeled a hypocrite, we simply came to the name-caller and said, “Hi! My name is Michael. I apologize if I have offended you or treated you unfairly. If you are willing, I would love to listen to you more over a cup of coffee or lunch.” Maybe, just maybe, that dialogue would go further toward breaking down the barrier than simply lining up our set of scriptures, reasonable doubt, and all of our good characteristics to change their minds. Remember the true definition didn’t work for me 20 years ago, and I doubt that strategy works today.
Using the hypocrite claim to not be a part of a faith family is just an excuse and probably not the real reason you reject the church or Christians. Because my guess is that if you have a boss (and let’s face it, we all do), they have told you to do something that they have no intention of doing themselves. You may have a spouse who wants you to do a chore simply because they don’t plan on ever doing it. It’s possible that you are against racism, sexism, war, and bigotry or against abortion, fiscal liberalism, and same-sex marriage. Yet my guess is that you still work for that boss, or are in a relationship with someone who you love, or you have retweeted or liked a Facebook status or purchased from or donated to an establishment that might sharply disagree with some of your principles—whether they know it or not. What I’m saying is that we won’t line up completely with anyone in this time and day. We don’t leave their camp simply because we don’t completely agree. So my guess is that hypocrisy isn’t the flagship reason you haven’t joined a church or given your life to Jesus. You may not believe in the idea of God. You may not want to feel obligated to read your Bible, go to church every Sunday, or serve others in your community. You may not want any part of a group of people who act like they have it all together or a group of people, period. Whatever the reason, own it! And for those of us who love church and the idiosyncrasies of following Jesus, we should be interested in the real reasons. We should want to know why many people want nothing to do with church or Christianity. Yes, people have a hard time with Jesus. However, those who follow Him are sometimes difficult to get along with as well. If someone doesn’t want to be a Christian, His followers shouldn’t be the reason.