Unhiding the Hidden: The Hypocrisy Cure

This sketch by John Crist is, first and foremost, a spot on voice impersonation of Senator Lindsey Graham.

But beyond that, it’s a brilliantly and hilariously incisive cut into church culture.

What’s so strange to me is that satirists don’t often poke fun at church activities so much as church culture. We do a lot of weird things in church that I would think would be prime targets for jokes. We sing together in a half-concert, half-karaoke mashup; we eat crackers and drink juice in an often unexplained ritual; we talk about being washed in the blood of a lamb like we’re some sort of cult; we randomly shove people under water; we shout foreign words at chaotic intervals; and we willingly sit still through a half-hour lecture each and every week.

There’s a lot of material for comedy there, as the video below lampoons:

While that video does a great job satirizing church worship services, it’s relatively unique. More often than not it’s not those things that get made fun of. It’s the stuff in the lobby and the parking lot, like with the first video. Or, even more often, especially from church outsiders, it’s hypocrisy and cliché that take the comedic cake.

Hypocrisy and clichés aren’t unique to church. But if there were an award for them…churches would win it. (Click to Tweet).

We’ve long come to expect hypocrisy from politicians, world leaders, celebrities, corporations, our coworkers, and the news. Their hypocrisy is just as common as the church’s. So why is church’s hypocrisy funnier?

Because of the absurd juxtaposition involved. We kind of brought that on ourselves.

We Christians spend a lot of time talking about personal morality. It’s kind of our jam. Don’t get me wrong; it’s totally necessary. We have to talk about morality to talk about sin, and we have to talk about sin to talk about Jesus. That’s a necessary element.

But boy do we blow it sometimes.

Just do a quick Google search of “pastor sex scandal news.” It doesn’t matter one bit when you Google this. There will always be something new there (as of this writing, the newest story is just four days old).

And that’s just one kind of hypocrisy! There are dozens more churches are infamous for.

Some of that’s the media in what they choose to write about. I get that. They don’t cover the help we provide the homeless; they cover our scandals. That’s how news works. I understand that.

But they’re only doing the natural business thing. They’re covering what people click on and what they tune in to watch. Which means on some level people want to see Christians take it in the teeth.

The public has an unslakable lust for watching big people fall down. (Click to Tweet)

That shouldn’t be news to you. There’s a reason they put US Weekly in the checkout line at your grocery store. There’s a reason Breitbart exists.

So why Christians specifically? Because we preach truth and then violate that truth regularly.

Of course we do. We’re sinners. If we acted perfectly in all circumstances, we wouldn’t need Jesus in the first place. We need his grace just to get through the day, much less a lifetime. We’re going to screw up. This is in the nature of being human. Screwing up doesn’t make us less Christian. It just makes us all the more dependent on Christ. (Click to Tweet)

So here’s an idea that may cut down on the criticism, or at least make it easier to live with: Preach from your sin.

I’m not just talking to pastors. I’m talking to everyone. And I seriously mean it. Preach from your own sin, not the sins of others.

Having a conversation about racism? Admit your own racial bias (and yes, you have one). Preaching a sermon about pornography? Confess your own struggle (and yes, you have one). Talking about grace? Tell everyone just how much you need it on a daily basis.

Every time you talk about sin, talk about your own sin first. That takes the air right out of the criticism balloon. (Click to Tweet)

The reason Christians take such crap for talking about sin is because we so often try to portray a straight face of righteousness that is beyond what we actually live out. It’s beyond what we are even capable of living out.

When you try to project perfection, it doesn’t matter how big the crack in that perfection is. It’s going to stick out. (Click to Tweet) And that crack will say everything about you. The more you try to hide it, the more visible it’s going to become.

But instead try this: point to the crack yourself. Don’t hide your sin; highlight it. Then point to Jesus’ perfection instead of trying to fake your own. (Click to Tweet)

That is pure Gospel. It’s what we see emulated by Paul and other apostles over and over again in the New Testament. It’s exactly what salvation is about. Our Great Commission isn’t to appear perfect. It’s to point to the apparent perfection of Christ.

It also has the added benefit of making it harder to make fun of us. So there’s that.

Listen, I know that’s hard. I’m sitting here thinking I can’t write about revealing one’s own sin if I don’t do so myself, and I’ll admit, I’m getting anxious about it. It’s close to the heart. It hurts. It says bad things about me. It shows how imperfect I am. It shows how messed up my heart can be sometimes.

I get that it’s hard to showcase your own sin. Do it anyway.

Lest I partake in hypocrisy myself, here’s mine (and this is just the most recent one): I’ve been harboring bitterness toward a family relative. I’ve had it for years, but it’s reared its ugly head in full force in just the last week. I need to forgive that relative and ask for them to forgive me.

And now that I’ve said it out loud, I have to do it. That’s kind of freeing, actually.

Maybe you should try it, too.

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