How would you feel if I stood up here and, deeply disappointed and angry with you, called you all a bunch of hypocrites? If I said you were all blind? A brood of snakes and vipers? Condemned to hell, all of you?
How would you respond? Would you be angry with me? Would you use it as a cause for self-examination in case I was right? Would you band together with others and and argue your case against me? Would you turn it around and condemn me as being a hypocrite and ungodly?
These terms I have used [These] are the words that Jesus used – the “Seven Woes” from Matthew 23 – when speaking to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the religious, ‘godly’ people of the day and yet Jesus reserved his strongest words for them. Not for the prostitutes or the thieves or gays or thugs. But for the religious. This is because the ‘sinners’ already knew their ‘place’ in society. They didn’t pretend to be something they weren’t. The main criticism against the Pharisees (mentioned 6 times in this passage alone) was that they were “hypocrites”.
We are the godly people of today. Are we hypocrites? Are we “blind guides”, “broods of snakes and vipers”? Are we Pharisaical?
One of the highest callings we have today as Christians is to be Christlike.
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:6
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
But are we really Christlike in our attitude and our actions? Or in our zealousness for God and for righteousness, have we become more like the Pharisees?
David Kinnaman, president of the respected Barna group which conducts surveys on Christians and Christian living, conducted a survey on Christians across the U.S. to find out if they were more Christ-like in their attitudes and actions, or more Pharisaical. The results are sobering and I thought, we, too, would do well to look at this survey and ask ourselves the same questions.
In the States at least, Christians are too often seen by society as hypocritical. 84% of non-Christians said that they knew a Christian personally but only 14% said that their lifestyles were noticeably different in a good way. Although we are ultimately trying to please God and not people, this should still be cause for some concern. What is cause for greater concern is the results of the survey which show how Christians end up rating themselves in terms of Christlike or Pharisaical attitudes and actions (as a result of the survey). I’ll get to these at the end.
For now, I would like us to do the survey for ourselves, so that this issue of our Christlikeness is not just an academic one but a real one that we can use to better understand ourselves, more accurately assess how we are living, and get a better idea of how others might see us, too.
Mark ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions:
♣ I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith.
♣ In recent years, I have influenced multiple people to consider following Christ.
♣ I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me. 自分と違った信仰や道徳の人たちとよく食事をするようにしている。
♣ I try to discover the needs of non-Christians rather than waiting for them to come to me. クリスチャンではない人が私のところに来るのを待つよりかは彼らの必要を見つけようとする。
♣ I am personally spending time with non-believers to help them follow Jesus.
♣ I see God-given value in every person, regardless of their past or present condition.
♣ I believe God is for everyone.
♣ I see God working in people’s lives, even when they are not following him.
♣ It is more important to help people know God is for them than to make sure they know they are sinners.
♣ I feel compassion for people who are not following God and doing immoral things.
♣ I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.
♣ I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.
♣ I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.
♣ I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.
♣ I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.
♣ I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.
♣ It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.
♣ I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.
♣ I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.
♣ People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.
Although not a precise judgement, you can get an idea of your Christlikeness by adding up the ‘yes’ scores.
The first 5 questions assess Actions like Jesus: イエスのような行動
The next 5 questions assess Attitudes like Jesus: イエスのような態度
The third group of 5 questions assess Self-Righteous Actions: 独善的な行動
The final 5 questions assess Self-Righteous Attitudes: 独善的な態度
So, a higher score in the first 10 questions would indicate Christlikeness, while a higher score in the bottom 10 questions would indicate self-righteousness.
Only 14% of U.S. Christians were Christ-like in action and attitude; キリストのような行動と態度
14% of U.S. Christians were Christ-like in action, but not in attitude; キリストのような行動ではあるが、態度はそうでない
21% of U.S. Christians were Christ-like in attitude, but not action; キリストのような態度ではあるが、行動はそうでない
A whopping 51% of U.S. Christians were Christ-like in neither どちらもキリストのようでない
Kinnaman says it’s not surprising that believers miss the mark in terms of representing Jesus, because transformation in Christ is sodifficult and so rare in American society. In particular, evangelicals seem to know the right way to behave, but they often admit to harbouring sanctimonious motives.
“Many Christians are more concerned with what they call unrighteousness than they are with self-righteousness. It’s a lot easier to point fingers at how the culture is immoral than it is to confront Christians (and ourselves) in their comfortable spiritual patterns.
Kinnamon concludes: the responsibility of the Christian community is to challenge hypocrisy just as boldly as other kinds of sin.”
I believe this brings us a renewed call to humble ourselves before God and to rediscover the deep compassion and love that God has for the world. John 3:16 needs to become a motivating force in our lives as we relate to those around us. I believe we need to better connect to ‘sinful, unrighteous, non-believers’, not to bring judgement or condemnation but to bring God’s light and love into their lives.
Let’s pray for forgiveness for any hypocrisy we have had in our lives and ask God to fill us with the love of His Spirit to befriend and reach a lost and hurting world with the compassion and love of Jesus.