Q: I have a friend who will not become a Christian because he says that Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. What should I say to him?
A: One of the more common reasons that people ignore the Bible and Christianity is Christians themselves. They are often the most flagrant sinners on God’s green earth. Prisons are full of Christians, bankers regularly write off bad debt incurred by Christians, and it is far too common to meet Christians who are ungodly, unthankful, mean spirited, jealous, liars, conniving, and just plain inconsiderate.
Of course there are people who call themselves Christians who are not—they go into a Church building but have never given their heart to the Lord. However, even Christians who have given their heart to the Lord can be overcome by their weaknesses and sin against God and man. Christ, speaking of his disciples’ failure to obey, commented that, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
Scripture tells the truth about men’s faults and failures, and this is a reason to believe the Bible, not disbelieve it. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins,” and Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Even great Christians who try really hard to be godly cannot escape the weakness of their flesh. The great Apostle Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Rom. 7:15).
A great truth of Christianity is that God saves sinners, and a great blessing of Christianity is that we do not have to be perfect or even close to perfect to be saved. The Bible makes it clear that God saves sinners, not saints: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). If we had to be holy before we could be saved, it would be like having to take a bath before we could take a shower. Jesus Christ saves the unholy. When unholy sinners do get saved, they still sin (ask any Christian, and he will tell you that is true). Christians should try to be holy, certainly, but they often fail. It is unrealistic (not to mention illogical) for those who are not yet saved to judge God or the Bible because of the behavior of His children (Christians). Instead, if you are unsaved and know a Christian who is living an ungodly lifestyle, it should give you comfort knowing that God will save anyone who comes to Him and asks for salvation—including you.
Christians should try to live exemplary lives, and God commands Christians to not lie, not steal, not commit sexual sins, etc., but that does not mean that any Christian will ever get to the point of perfect obedience. On the other hand, if you are a Christian, you need to be aware that your personal behavior can draw people to Christ or drive them away, and it is very important to the Lord that you walk in a manner that is worthy of your calling as a Christian (Eph. 4:1).
If you are not a Christian and are considering Christianity, but you are “turned off” by Christians who are hypocrites, take comfort in the fact that Jesus Christ was not a hypocrite, but lived a perfect life. A Christian makes Christ, not other Christians, his or her Lord. Also take comfort that Christ does save sinners. Being a disciplined Christian is difficult, and if you become a Christian it will not be long before you fall short of perfection. When that happens to you, you will want others to understand your human weaknesses, and you can be confident that Christ still accepts and loves you.