By Thom Schultz
After Alan mentioned he was a Christian, everyone around him clammed up and distanced themselves from him. They automatically assumed Alan possessed several unpleasant characteristics.
Justified or not, the public today holds a number of negative impressions of Christians. One of the most frequently mentioned complaints: “Christians are hypocrites.” I know, I know. This seems like a really lame charge. And we’ve become quick to push it back. For example, circulating on Facebook this week: “Griping that churches are filled with hypocrites is like griping that gyms are filled with out-of-shape people.” Touché, I guess.
But biting back doesn’t seem to be blunting the negative opinions. This is due, in part, to a misunderstanding of what people really mean when they say “hypocrite.” We commonly assume they’re defining hypocrisy as saying one thing and doing another. But today the allegation is more nuanced. What they’re really saying is, “You act as if you have all the answers, like you’re a superior know-it-all.”
When our neighbors hold these beliefs, making clever comebacks only pushes them further away. If we really want to reflect the love of Christ, we’ll need to be more proactive.
In our book, Why Nobody Wants to Be Around Christians Anymore, we advocate “4 acts of love” to help reverse Christians’ unbecoming reputation. One of them applies directly to this charge of hypocrisy. We call it Genuine Humility. It’s the antidote to hypocrisy.
What Genuine Humility Is Not
- Humility is not being insecure in who you are.
- Humility is not belittling yourself in hopes of receiving little nuggets of hollow praise.
- Humility is not saying “I’m so humbled” after being recognized for achievement.
What Genuine Humility Is
- Humility is admitting one’s own sins and flaws.
- Humility is open to learning from others with different views.
- Humility is communicating a sense of “we’re all in this together.”
Genuine humility acknowledges that we’re all on this journey of life. None of us has all the answers. When we show we’re eager and open to grow, we invite others on this God-journey.
What does Genuine Humility look like in everyday life? Here are some practical ways to demonstrate love through Genuine Humility:
Model vulnerability. Share your own struggles and shortcomings.
Share your questions. Be honest. Your willingness to voice your questions about life and God welcomes others into the dialog.
Control your appetite to be right. Refrain from using proof texts as weapons.
Squelch the pride. Escape the spotlight. Remove your name from the marquee. Refrain from building your “brand.” Be last, the servant of all.
The world is repelled by hypocrites on pedestals. But the world is drawn to real people who ooze Jesus-inspired Genuine Humility.