For or AgainstThe Christian Hypocrisy
In Gethsemane, after Peter tried to establish his idea of God’s Kingdom through the violent use of a sword, Jesus rebuked him, “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword!” 1
Another way of saying it—is if you live by ‘for or against thinking,’ you will die by ‘for or against thinking.’
Then, Jesus modeled the way of eternal life by taking up a cross and laying down His life for His friends.
Today, much of the church—including her leaders, because they are obsessed with retribution—often behave like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, swinging their swords in defense of ideologies absolutely contrary to cruciform love.
Much of the church—specifically, many of her leaders—exult in the knowledge of good and evil. We pick sides for or against a politician, a pastor, a movement, a group, a race, a country, a specific sin, or a specific sinner, and then justify waging war on behalf of our devotion to our side or point of view.
And war makes cruel hypocrites out of even the best-intentioned Christians.
And nothing undermines trust quicker than this hypocrisy.
Do you know why Jesus can be trusted? It’s simple. He laid down His life on our behalf, not counting our sins, political affiliations, tribalism, cruel ideologies, or punishing theologies against us.
He was not against us!
There is no for or against in Christ crucified and risen.
Yes, there is great evil and injustice in this world. And yes, we are in a battle, but not against flesh and blood. Our fight is against the dualistic nature of Satan, against the hierarchal thinking that empowers us to swing a sword at another person in defense of our certainties about God. 2
The Christian devotion to a leader, institution, ideology, or theology in the spirit of for or against has birthed a call to arms that is counter to the gospel of Jesus. Today, the church is often better known for our abuses and whom we are against than for being a living expression of Greater Love.
The whole world is looking for somewhere to place their trust. We look to our politicians, government, news media, and institutions—including the church, and they are all failing us. Sadly, when the world looks to the church, they often see sword-wielding, spear-flinging, untrustworthy Christians justifying their punishing devotion to for or against.
Whenever Christians defend cruelty and condemnation in the name of a punishing God, people’s ability to trust the church is compromised.
The church’s unwillingness to leave retribution has birthed a hypocrisy that suffocates—and people are leaving. And that may not be a bad thing. You see, today, the church is being sifted like wheat. But Jesus has prayed for our faith…
Christians are rethinking the doctrines we’ve been taught about God, the Bible, and the meaning of being a follower of Jesus. “Sixty-five million adults in the U.S. have dropped out of active church attendance, and about 2.7 million more are leaving every year.” And that statistic is from 2018-19, before the pandemic. 3
Meanwhile, the United States has more atheists than ever…
This article is excerpted from my book, Leaving and Finding Jesus
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