Chances are, we have all heard some critic use this complaint as an excuse for not attending worship services, or even for not becoming a Christian. “Hypocrite” is an ugly word. It refers to someone who is pretending to be something that he is not. In short, a hypocrite is someone who is lying. What should we make of this statement?
First, most churches of which I have personal knowledge are not full of hypocrites. They are full of good people who are trying their best to do what they believe is right. No one is perfect. The best of people make mistakes from time to time. There is a big difference between hypocrisy and a lack of perfection. If a church has members who are hypocrites, then that church needs to deal with them.
Second, even if this charge was true, and all the churches were full of hypocrites, that would not change one’s need to become a Christian. One person’s sin is not another person’s hope. If my conduct or teaching misleads or discourages someone, I will have to answer for that in judgment (Matthew 18:6-9). We are not made righteous in the eyes of God because we have found others worse than ourselves by who we judge ourselves (cp. Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Third, those who are critical of the gospel because of hypocrites are focusing on the wrong subject. The gospel is not about Christians; it is about Christ. We cannot learn about Christ by studying the faults of those who pretend to be His followers. We learn of Christ by studying Christ.