The God Question Part Six: The Church has done so much Injustice. Aren’t Christians Hypocrites?
Pastor Colton Conrad
“I…hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libel…”
- Frederick Douglass, 19th century orator, minister, abolitionist
Injustices “Christians” have been a part of…
Deutsche Christen (German Christians), who aligned themselves with the Nazi party
The Crusades, Bernard of Clairveaux, “Any man among you who is his vassal ought to rise up to defend his Lord from the infamous accusation of treachery;
The Slave Trade (U.S. and British)
Residential Schools in Canada (Government and church sanctioned assimilation)
Not Just Christianity
The Khmer Rouge: 2 million people
Hitler’s atheism: 6 million Jews, etc.
20th century communism, Stalin: 20 million
Mao: 45 million
There is something that goes deeper…getting right to the core of our human nature.
The problem of injustice, is in the heart.
Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widows cause.”
Micah 6:6 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Proverbs 21:3 “To do justice is more acceptable than sacrifice.”
“They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good. Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor.”
Are Christians Hypocrites?
Jesus calls out hypocrisy!
Matthew 23:1, 23 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach…Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
The Problem is the heart.
Pastor Eric Mason, “When people enjoy the spoils of the power, they forget the original reason why they started doing stuff in the first place…when we do not have a Christ-centered vision…there is nothing restraining [people] from not going for “theirs”…”
Cruciform life rather than a Crusade
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40
“The Bible explains again and again why people’s hearts are drawn toward selfishness and pride and so on. The Bible says, “this is how you should live if you believe this” but it also says, “you can’t, and you won’t” and provides a solution to that problem in Jesus. Christianity, unlike other religions, acknowledges that it cannot be followed perfectly, no one is perfect!”
– Tim Keller
All Christians are, sinners.
Hypocrisy: “An inconsistent person. A person that says one thing, does another, and knows that they are doing something wrong but puts up a front.”
Hypokrites, the Greek word for actor
To claim perfection and then fail, that would be hypocrisy. But to acknowledge you are a sinner, is essential to being a Christian, and to be able to admit it when you mess up.
What is the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ?
Jesus’s self-sacrificial love, taking the punishment that sinners deserved (Rom. 5:8) before they ever did anything that might “earn” it. We can’t earn our salvation, we need Jesus.
The heart of the Christian faith is a man who died, a victim of injustice, but asking for the forgiveness of his enemies.
““This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
- Jeremiah 31:33
Not turning a blind eye to injustices
“The reason Christians these days cannot allow the church to be fully identified with any particular party is the problem of what the British ethicist James Mumford calls “package-deal ethics.” Increasingly, political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions.”
– Tim Keller
If you can’t criticize a party you favour when a policy goes against the teaching of the Bible, then you might be making that party or their ideals an idol, your ultimate, and not God’s kingdom. We can’t be about that and need to be very careful. We aren’t a bloc of voters, we are a church.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Theologian, Educator, Martyr.
William Wilberforce, British Abolotionist.
How can we keep ourselves from being hypocrites and engaging in injustices?
- Learn to Read the Bible Faithfully.
- Own It.
- Show compassion
Our Hope lies with King Jesus, bringing true justice (Isaiah 42:1-4). We long for that day!
- What are your thoughts on the issues (injustices) Colton raised? Are these concerns that you have had as you thought about the Christian faith? Do your peers or friends have these concerns?
- What are some of the ways that Christians are seen as being hypocritical today?
- In the passages from the OT prophets, what is it that God wants? What does God not want? See again: Micah 6:6-8; Prov 21:3; Jeremiah 5:24-28.
- Colton mentioned William Wilberforce as a positive example of a Christian who faithfully worked for justice, even under great pressure. Read James 1:27. What is “true” religion in the words of James? How does that challenge you in terms of working positively in the world?
- Colton spoke about two ways to keep from being hypocrites and to work for justice in the world. First, read the Bible well, in its context. Second, own your own mistakes; nobody gets it right all the time. Being a hypocrite isn’t messing up; it’s claiming you haven’t when you have. Christianity says we can come to God, confess our sin, and work to make restitution with others.
What did you think of those suggestions? How do they challenge you?
- Read James 3:13-18. James contrasts two different ways of life and thinking – the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of the world – “earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” How does this text help us think better about potentially divisive issues in our world today – political or otherwise?
- Youtube: The Bible Project, Design Patterns in Biblical Narrative. The Bible Project is a great resource for helping you learn to read the Bible well. Watch this video and notice the Design pattern that gets at the human condition.
How do we see the design pattern of the human condition at work in our world today?