Hypocrisy in the church?

It may seem like high school students have internal hypocrisy radars. They’re usually sensitive about right and wrong, comparing people—watching people—and the standards they keep.

For young people, the reality of sin in the church is like a “beep … beep … beep” radar sound. When they hear of big sins, they’re almost ready to throw up their hands, “What gives? Why are people of the church so two-faced?”

Idealistic teenagers can be disillusioned by this and tempted to reject the church. But God doesn’t respond that way. He sees sin for what it is; he also continues to work in his church, the bride of Christ, to sanctify her and one day present her faultless before him.

This is not a simplistic checklist, but a guide to help students who seem disillusioned when Christianity is not being lived out.

  1. Is your church being honest about her struggles? If we give the false impression we do not have problems with sin and temptation, then we will not help those who do.
  2. Are we as a church repentant? Or are we contributing to hypocrisy by not repenting? Going to Christ for cleansing and restoration keeps the focus on the genuine pursuit of holiness.
  3. Am I as a leader being honest about my own struggles and temptations? Am I honest about my own sin and repentant?
  4. Are students keeping in mind that sin will be fully purged in heaven? One day when Jesus returns, the church will be fully renewed. For now, sometimes it seems like three steps forward and two steps back. But one day, Christ assures us, it will be complete and final.
  5. Are students ready to grant forgiveness to those who are repentant? Are they as merciful with others as they are with themselves? Because God is rich in mercy toward us, we can extend mercy to others.
  6. Students should ask themselves, Is my concern about hypocrisy in others really a smokescreen about God’s standards for me? Hypocrisy in the church sometimes allows students to avoid the Bible’s call to holiness for them. Pointing a finger outward is always easier than pointing it toward ourselves.

How do you help your students when they are disheartened about hypocrisy?


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