“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”ROMANS 3:23
The recent resignation of Jerry Falwell Jr. as President and Chancellor of Liberty University casts yet another seemingly dark cloud of hypocrisy over the church in the world’s eyes. Such occurrences convey to non-believers that the only difference between the church and a night club is that one of the two is full of hypocrites. However, regardless of the nature that brought about Falwell’s resignation, one comment in a recent article truly caught my eye: “Jerry Falwell Jr. had long made a point of emphasizing that he was not trying to be a moral leader.”1
Uh! News flash! As disciples of Jesus Christ, every Christian, by default, is a moral leader in their sphere of influence. The article quotes Falwell as once saying in a tweet on Twitter, “I have never been a minister.” Wrong again because Scripture calls Christians to minister one to another (1 Peter 4:10), to share the gospel, and make disciples for Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). All of which are acts of ministering to others, believers and non-believers alike. Ministering to others, which is to say serving, is an essential component to spiritual growth; it is part of how we Show and Tell the Gospel.
Hypocrisy in the church is not an issue that emerged in the modern era because Scripture speaks to when Apostle Paul had to call out none other than his fellow Apostle Peter for being a hypocrite. Paul notes in the book of Galatians that when Peter first visited Antioch, he saw that Jewish and gentile converts ate together, and so he joined them. Such an act was contrary to Jewish custom because of certain dietary restrictions that are detailed in the book of Leviticus, chapter 11.
Nonetheless, Peter indulged himself at the Antioch buffet until some of Apostle Jame’s friends arrived on the scene. Then, the Bible says, “Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people…” (Gal 2:12). He also insisted that the gentile converts follow Jewish customs after he had lived it up as a gentile in the days prior. Peter’s hypocrisy also caused other Jews to act hypocritical and so Paul took the issue straight to Peter face to face, one on one.
A modern example of Peter’s hypocrisy would be for a church pastor to live it up at a local night club all week intoxicated. Then preach a sermon the following Sunday on how Christians ought to avoid drunkenness and be responsible. But let us be honest, everyone, to some degree, has been a hypocrite at one time or another, and if you are unable to say amen, you ought to say ouch because it is true. The good news is God does not require us to be perfect, just obedient with a heart of repentance when we stumble and fall. In a letter to his student, Titus, Paul wrote:
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”TITUS 2:7-8/ESV
Whether we choose to believe it or not, Christians are under constant scrutiny by the world. The world watches and waits for us to stumble, to make a mistake so they can press the hypocrisy button and be dismissive of the gospel and their need for a Savior. That is why Christian morality, ethics, and integrity matter because they work hand-in-hand with sharing the gospel, making disciples, and setting a Christ-like example for others. An example that is in keeping with Solomon’s eloquent words, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Pro. 27:17/NIV).
Heavenly Father, We approach your throne with a sense of humility and a heart of thankfulness for the mercy and grace that You extend to us from one day to the next. We ask that you continue to mold and shape us to become more Christ-like and serve as His example to the spiritually lost and dying within this hostile fallen world. Please help us to decrease to self so that we can increase in Christ for this we ask in His holy and precious name, amen.
1 Graham, R. (2020, August 26). Jerry Falwell Jr.’s departure brings relief on Liberty University’s campus. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from https://www.ajc.com/news/jerry-falwell-jrs-departure-brings-relief-on-liberty-universitys-campus/WN44SALJMBGL7OJADC6BBNUITU/.