A man called me a hypocrite.
It was during a Facebook exchange in which I expressed disappointment hearing Christians defend statements and policies that denigrate the marginalized and reduce services for the least of these.
He told me I’m judgmental and a hypocrite and I’m the reason people are leaving the church in droves.
The thing is, he’s right.
No, I don’t think I’m wrong for calling out injustice even if (maybe especially if) it’s Christians who are being unjust.
But I am a hypocrite.
I know it. I see it every time I remember I’m not carrying cash so I walk past a homeless person on the sidewalk, and pretend I don’t see them. Instead I should look them in the eye, acknowledge I have no cash, and ask them about their day. I may not have money right then, but I do have the gift of gab. I can connect with them for a moment and treat them like the fellow human they are, squeeze their hand, and wish them well. But too often I walk on by, squirming in my own discomfort.
I see it when I pray that God breaks my heart with what breaks His, and then scroll by the articles about human suffering that litter my news feed because I just don’t feel emotionally equipped to handle it right now. I only want to watch kitten videos or take celebrity quizzes because that is comfortable and mind numbing and maybe I didn’t really mean it when I prayed that prayer, anyway.
I recognize it when in church I lift my hands with great passion and sing:
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
And then spend the free time of my week on social media or watching television because it’s easier than doing the work of relationship with God and frankly, I’m afraid of what He might require of me if I listen.
Or what about when I emphatically teach my children that we are called to be peace makers which is different than peace keepers. A peace keeper avoids conflict in effort to preserve a false “peace” and may spend years walking on eggshells in order to prevent upsetting the status quo. A peace maker will unearth the source of conflict and bring it to light so as to work it out and cause true peace to reign. It is messy and uncomfortable and a lot of effort. So, while my mouth is telling my kids to be a maker not a keeper, my feet are carefully stepping on the eggshells of my own relationships to avoid the effort, the messy, and the uncomfortable. Because it’s one thing to have wisdom in an area; it’s a whole ‘nother thing to act on it.
So while I disagreed with my Facebook accuser’s reasoning, I could not deny the accuracy of his charge.
I am a hypocrite.
I can hear the accusation of it, over and over, beating like a mantra of shame inside my soul. “You are a hypocrite.” It makes me want to shrink, to withdraw, to hide. I have nothing to offer. I am not successful in the good I’m attempting. The proof is all around. One wouldn’t have to look hard to uncover it.
I can strain and strive and work to become better. But, I know that will never last. Striving leads to more legalism and more rules which only leads to more hypocrisy. No, better to fall on my face and admit it. We are all hypocrites in some ways, all of us saying one thing and doing another; all of us wanting to be different than who we actually are, seeing ourselves the hero while putting forth the coward’s effort.
It is only off-putting when I continue to pretend. When I deny my own hypocrisy, I fool no one and repel everyone. The shame is in the pretense. All that’s required of me is to take the off the mask. Jesus even said, “I’ve come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:13)
I’m not already good enough. Are you? I’m reminded of another line from the song quoted above:
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
I’ll not let the accuser make hypocrisy be my mantra. Grace will be the heartbeat of my life. I can easily get lost in the pretending, but grace is where I’m found.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6
The truth is, I am a hypocrite. And so are you. And with simply asking, there is grace enough for us all.