It was mentioned that I had forgotten a very important item in my lists on how to kill the church. It's a biggie. And, perhaps it should have been on the list. I kept it off because I had planned on doing another post with the top 5 (or 10 or 20 or whatever) Biblical reasons the church face-plants. But, as I was trying to plan for this post, I realized that the 5 reasons (which actually weren't 5... but that isn't the point) were all actually the same reason.
What is this reason?
One simple one... and, I might add, a concept that is found quite often in the Bible...
How many times have you seen scenarios such as:
You're in church, being preached to about adultery. It's a wonderful sermon, told with such passion, with scripture read that supports every word uttered. The married lady in the pew in front of you is nodding, clearly moved by the minister's words.
You leave the church spiritually filled and feeling close to God.
And as you're walking about, you start hearing the old ladies in front of you gossiping about how horrible that one kid is. And you see a couple gentlemen heading over to the bar. And you see the nodding woman worriedly look around, before slipping into a car with someone who is not her husband. Remembering you left your jacket in the church, you slip back inside and a shadow in the corner calls your attention - and you stand flabbergasted as you watch the pastor having a hot and heavy make-out session with that new young unwed church member.
Or what about the not-so-elaborate scenarios....
The "better-than-thou" couple who sit in judgment of all these sinners within the church, speaking ill of them for drinking and gambling and whatever else they find to talk about. This alone is bad enough... but it's usually these people whom you'll find drinking and gambling and whatever else they find.
It is usually those who act the most religious - and do so in front of others...
Those who act better than others - and make no effort to hide it...
It's these kind of people whom you will find not lifting a finger to help the hungry family across the street; or sick single mother; or the elderly woman who can no longer shovel her walk. It's these kind of people who close their eyes to the needy while telling everyone that they are here to help.
This ties in with hypocrisy... and I actually touched on it already in the last couple paragraphs... but the one form of hypocrisy that, in my opinion, is worse than all others is the kind that claims it's all about love, but hates certain people.
We all have issues showing love at all times. But if a church claims it is built on the Gospel, this would mean that the church is built on love. That is what Christ was (and still is) about - love. If this church turns away people for any reason... if this church marginalizing anyone... they're hypocrites. If this church is accepting and tolerant of anyone - particularly those in leadership positions - turning away people, or marginalizing people - it's a hypocritical church.
We're all sinners... BUT....True, we are all sinners. We cannot be perfect. But, this does not mean we shouldn't try to walk what we talk... practice what we preach... live what we teach.
1 John 4:20 - Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
Ezekiel 33:31-32 - My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
James 1:26 - Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
Luke 13:14-15 - Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
Matthew 15:7-9 - You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”
Matthew 23:3 - 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.
Matthew 23:5 - “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;
Matthew 6:1-2 - “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Matthew 7:3-5 - “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Romans 2:1-5 - You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
Titus 1:16 - They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.