Here is an accurate summation of why many people are keeping their distance from church, and Christians. I found it online in a forum, with many other comments scarily similar to this one. Read it, and let it sting. It should hit us hard.
"Christians, they love to talk about how loving, dutiful and compassionate they are, yet I have yet to meet ONE who does not practice hypocrisy to the highest degree. Their willful ignorance of the Bible combined with their two faced idealism to preach it, has made us sick, hasn’t it? For nearly two thousand years Biblicists have been lecturing people on the importance of adhering to the Bible’s teachings on ethics, manners, and morality. They quote Jesus and Paul profusely, with a liberal sprinkling of Old Testament moralism. The problem with their approach lies not only in an oft- noted failure to practice what they preach, but an equally pronounced tendency to ignore what the Bible itself, preaches. Christians practice what can only be described as “selective morality”. What they like, they cling to and shove down other’s throats; what they don’t like, they ignore vehemently. That which is palatable and acceptable is supposedly applicable to all; while that which is obnoxious, inconvenient, or self-denying is only applicable to those addressed 2,000 years ago. Their hypocrisy is so rampant that even the validity of calling oneself “Christian” is in question. I see so many people enjoy quoting the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and some of Paul’s sermons, but don’t even PRETEND to heed other, equally valid, maxims."
Ouch. How did that feel? Are you angry? Are you thinking of a rebuttal? Are you ready to argue this person until they beg for mercy? Did you grab your Bible to fire verses at the author? Then STOP and get a grip! Here is the reason strangers are hesitant to come to youth group, and why trying to witness in the streets does not always call crowds like the ones that swarmed Jesus. This is the reason! It doesn't matter if it's true about you or not. The fact is, this is how our religion is perceived. THIS is the attitude that we must be aware of! This is a lesson. This is proof that we need to be careful of how we act, because the world is watching! If you are quick to boast that your are a Christian, making sure the world can see your badges and symbols and hear your 'Christianese,' then read on.
It's a little scary how quick we are to slap "Christian" symbols and sayings where everyone can see. For those of us who are passionate about spreading the Word of God, we make sure that all of our good deeds are trademarked with the name of our church, a Bible reference, or a promise to 'pray for you.' We are like salespeople, making sure that everything we do is not only noticed, but works as a lure for the lost. We are workers of a huge advertising campaign, trying to sell church to the world, trying to auction off verses and quotes. We give and donate saying, "Oh, you like what you see? Come to our church on Sunday to learn more!" "Oh, you appreciate what I've done for you? Just call 1-800-JOHN316 FREE to find out more!"
We think that if people don't know we are Christians, our good works will be wasted. Therefore, we make sure we always have the Fish symbol glued to our bumpers so that people will notice our polite driving and be drawn to our religion. We make sure we wear t-shirts from camp that advertise how FUN being a follower of Jesus is, thinking that when others see the references and crosses adorning our bodies, they will be converted on the spot. We want to put in a good name for ourselves, our religion, and our churches. We see an unbeliever as a challenge; as a customer that needs to be persuaded to join our club.
News Flash: The world doesn't work that way. People don't like it when they are thought of as a project. People don't want to be your guinea pigs. They don't want to be an experiment. They're more than an audience. They don't want to just be your 'mission,' and rightly so. People want to be people.
Isn't it interesting how often Jesus told people to keep His identity a secret? In the 9th chapter of Matthew, when Jesus healed two blind men he said to them, "See that no one knows about this." When Jesus raised a girl from the dead, he "strictly charged [the parents] that no one should know." (Mark 5:43) In Mark 7, as soon as Jesus healed a man of deafness, it says in verse 36: "Jesus commanded the crowd not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it." Perhaps the craziest order of all is in Matthew 16 when Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anybody that He was the Messiah.
So often we act like our position is more important than our purpose. We act like the church is a club, instead of a hospital. We want to put in a 'good name' for what we do, and focus more on the persuading than the actual loving. Don't get me wrong- it is a good thing to be passionate about serving Christ. It is a good thing to be in love with following Him. But true love for Christ is shown best through self-denial. We were not put here to put on a show. Our Great Commission is to love the world, not coax them into signing a deal.
We are forgetting that for us, as members of Christ's church, are not meant to be glorified. It's not our time! Our reward is coming. A reward beyond our wildest imaginations. But not now. Not in this life. We are called to be content with a life of service, and to strive to become the least. To God be the glory.
Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Not only that, but the majority of us as believers are forgetting what real religion is. We're turning it into a business. We have this illusion that people of the world are drawn to our short-term missions trips and group work days at homeless shelters. It's true, they are probably thankful for our moment of service. But just as we go home and get on with our lives, so do they. We imagine that people can be convinced at a moment's notice- that all they need to see is a Christian doing good deeds, and they will be convinced that it is a life they want to live.
We are so self-absorbed, we forget that every person has a different story. They've all had different upbringings, they've been taught different things. They have convictions. They have beliefs. They've come to certain understandings about certain things, and no doubt they have had to reckon with religion. They've been through things we haven't. They are individuals with individual thoughts and individual minds. Why are we stupid enough to forget that? Who are we to jump into their lives and expect them to believe what we say if we don't live what we say?
We go out to work projects or to different charities, excited for people to see us. But don't forget- throughout history, many people have painted a bad name for religion. The crusades. The Holocaust. The Westboro Baptist Church. There are so many wars, genocides, assaults, discrimination and segregation... and so often they have been in the name of religion. Don't forget that.
Most people have heard, all their lives, that religions is a list of do's and don'ts. They understand it to be a condemning group of people there to point out flaws. They see it as judgment and scorn. So when we come up to them with Bible in hand and a cross around our neck, eager to witness to them until they change their mind... our ministries will be futile. If we come to these individuals with a single goal in mind: conversion, and are determined to drown them in verses and slogans and songs, we are bound to be discouraged.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for
orphans and widows in their distress, and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Christianity has a reputation to get back. When it was founded by Christ Himself, it was pure action. Being a Christian meant being constantly on the move, constantly working, constantly being hunted, constantly being hated. It was CONSTANT action... but it was constant love. The majority of the world is of the idea that Christians are judgmental, biased, angry, hateful hypocrites. And right outside your door is a mission field! Let every move you make, every word you speak, and every thought you think be what represents Christ as a pleasant aroma. Let your actions speak for themselves. Let your life be a true and good representation of Christianity. Let your genuine love for people be what draws them in. Respect them. Honour them. Put them first. Care for them. Be the example of Jesus that they may never otherwise get to meet.
Show them why the people of the New Testament were so drawn to Jesus, even though He didn't tell them who He was at first. They were drawn to what He did. They were amazed by His teachings, and His compassion. His love for them came first, and that's why they followed Him. Sorry to break it to you, but people are honestly not drawn to signs and words as much as they are drawn to pure love.
When you wear your W.W.J.D. merchandise and put on that display... are you truly concerned for the souls of the people that will see you? Do the things you say glorify you, or do you seek to meet the people you encounter where they are? Are you more concerned with the saving of souls, or the recognition of your good deeds?
1 Corinthians 16:14~
Let all that you do be done in love.
We have a lot of work to do- there's a lot of damage that has been done in the past. So let's build our reputation by actually doing something, rather than trying to convince people that we're 'okay.' If you don't walk the walk, it's probably better to stop talking the talk! Let's stop debating. Let's stop arguing. Let's stop trying to tell people how wrong they are in thinking we are hypocrites... because by simply telling them, we are affirming what they think! Instead, let's PROVE where we stand. In Love. In God. In Humble Service.
Let's stop proclaiming the name of our church and organization, and start proclaiming the name of Love. Because God. Is. Love.
Let's stop giving people a reason to call us hypocrites. Live your life in such a way that if anyone tried to criticize your faith, they'd be speechless.