Our Christian Hypocrisy: The Key to Fighting It


On many a recent lunch break, I’ve opened the newspaper to an opinion piece or letter criticizing hypocritical Christians.  Logging into my social media accounts, I often see a similar theme voiced by friends and acquaintances.  Same on TV.  Same on the radio.  In the Church, Pope Francis challenges us to re-examine our habits and attitudes against our baptismal call.

All these situations prompt me to ask myself: Why am I a Christian? To what extent am I not living like one?  I admit that, not unlike James and John, I often forget why I am a Christian.  It happens in the heat of the moment; and, because of this forgetfulness, I often fail to live like a Christian.

Whenever one of my co-workers calls my cell phone, the ringtone is Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “For the Sake of the Call.”  That song makes my eyes misty.  I chose it for my co-workers because, amid its Galilee imagery, the lyrics dive into the heart of what it means to be a Christian:


Empty nets lying there
told the story that few could believe
and none could explain.

For Jesus had called them by name,
and they answered,
“We will abandon it all
For the sake of the call…”

Not for the sake of a creed or a cause,
not for a dream or a promise,
but simply because it is Jesus who calls,
and if we believe, we’ll obey.

Whenever we make a choice, our motivations are:

  • Out of self-interest (out of fear / desiring comfort or safety / laziness or apathy)
  • Out of love

I find encouragement in the apostles’ own struggle to follow Jesus out of love, rather than for fame or glory.  All Christians must face these questions: Is my primary motivation to ‘gain the prize’ at the end of life?  To avoid the burning alternative? Do I just want to be a member of the ‘winning team’? Am I merely carrying on ‘the family religion’? We may quickly waive those questions off, but each of us answer, “Yes,” to varying degrees. Those “yes’s” are the origin of our sins.

Instead, we must follow Christ, as Chapman sings, “because of the love He has shown.”  Christ’s vicar and people are calling you and me to recognize God’s intense desire to purify our hearts; so that daily activities and decisions come from love and love alone.  This is what it means to be a saint; drawing closer and closer to Love Incarnate, sharing more and more of His life, until we are finally united.

Jesus tells us,

…whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

God showed us how to answer His Call by doing it first; in Christ who lived and died (and continues to live) as pure self-gift. What an immense and intimidating challenge! No wonder Christians are held to a high standard!  No wonder we are hypocrites!  How could we possibly mirror Love Incarnate?

Today, and each day of our lives, can be a step on a journey toward a pure heart—toward sainthood—by making one, small change in the way we love.

We make this daily journey by abandoning our self-interest and opening ourselves to grace—which is just a fancy word for God’s own life.  History illustrates this process with the apostles’ abandonment of their nets—their way of life—and their daily sharing of Jesus’ life.

We are not alone. We make this journey together, as members of a larger Body. Saints who have gone before us call out from Heaven: “With God, nothing is impossible!” Sainthood is a real possibility.

Let’s go!  One step at a time, starting today…

Not for the sake of a creed or a cause,
not for a dream or a promise,
but simply because it is Jesus who calls,
and if we believe, we’ll obey.



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