On the Failure of Christians to be Christians

Christianity is a process. It is a commitment, a vow, a pledge. It is a complete overhaul and reformation. The creatures of God, created for the purpose of living and breathing the truth and glory of their Creator: that is Christianity. The scandal of this scheme lies in the fact that these creatures have invariably disqualified themselves from fulfilling this purpose, and in fact fulfill only those requirements by which they are justly consigned to eternal retribution. Indeed, these very creatures can never hope to possibly fulfill the purpose for which they were created, themselves.

But God, according to His own perfect council and pleasure, did not leave his creatures in this state for all eternity. He purposed that, through the fall, he would display his own glory by redeeming men from among the damned. The second Person of the Trinity, Jesus, entered into his own creation and himself fulfilled all the requirements he set for his creatures, being unjustly crucified as a willing sacrifice for whomever would simply surrender their reliance upon their own efforts and rest in the perfect righteousness of Christ, and repent of their misguided, prideful presumption and their careless, rebellious defiance.

All of the redeemed are actively being perfected. We have not yet tossed aside our sin-saturated clothing completely. With the Apostle Paul, we lament our constant struggle against our flesh and its sinful tendencies, and we even give in to them often. Many times Christians are very good at being sinners and very bad at being Christians. We fail regularly. Because of this, many people who aren’t Christians will point at us and question our dedication to what we say we believe, or they may even question the truth of Christianity itself. Both of these things require us to be thoughtful and responsible, and we should be driven to search the Bible for a resolution, or a rationalization, whenever these failures occur, in an effort to give an answer responsibly and clearly.

One way we aren’t to respond is by immediately writing off such accusations as mere ignorance on the non-Christian’s part. To be sure, there are many accusations which are in fact simply due to ignorance and unbelieving bias. But whenever we encounter the charge of hypocrisy, we must force ourselves to stop and reflect. As difficult as it may be to admit, even unbelievers are creatures of God and hence bear His image, and so due to common grace they are aware of such things as double-speak and hypocrisy, even if they aren’t consistent in their application of that judgment to themselves. Oftentimes the unbelieving world is a significant source of sanctification for us believers, as it forces us to contemplate those truths we hold dear.

Along the same lines of our response to the problem of evil, we should be thankful whenever we see unbelievers calling these things out. It demonstrates unbelievers’ recognition of evil. We must be careful to call evil “evil” and not make excuses for it. We must agree that evil is evil, but we must also be ready to make specific qualifications for what exactly constitutes it. We need to show them that they have no basis to call anything evil on their own terms, and that only on ours can they make any sense of evil and have a reason to fight against it.

And so to the question, “Why don’t Christians follow what they believe 100% of the time?” we can simply, but humbly, answer that being a Christian doesn’t make one any less human. But being human doesn’t make evil any less evil. The fact is, Christianity doesn’t expect human beings to be perfect, and in fact the doctrines of “sanctification” and “justification” and indeed the entire “Chain of Redemption” (Romans 8:28-30) are all predicated upon (that is, they presuppose), among other things, the imperfection of human beings. It’s perfectly consistent with Christianity for evil to occur, even among its own adherents.

What about those Christians who show little to no concern over trying to be perfect, or at least trying to live more and more consistently with Christianity? They hold onto the label, but don’t live the life. Well, since a person only lives in light of what he believes, it can probably be said that those people just don’t believe it. One defining mark of a true Christian, according to the Bible, is that he is actively fighting against the tendencies of his flesh, and so where there isn’t a fight, there isn’t a true Christian. There are many who have left Christianity because they see “Christians” living in a contradictory manner. But the failure of a person to live according to his profession does not mean the Object of his profession is false. Sadly, due to their ignorance of what Christianity teaches, they come to invalid conclusions about Christianity based on what they see these others doing. They are not justified in rejecting Christianity on the grounds that others abuse its teachings. And they need to be told this, in a humble but firm manner. In the end they have only their own sins to answer for, and no one else’s. They may say, “If it were true, more people would follow it,” or, “Christians wouldn’t sin.” Once again, this is simply due to ignorance of what the Bible teaches, as Christianity doesn’t require that this be the case in order for Christianity to be true.

In conclusion, the fact that Christians sin does not mean Christianity isn’t true. It does not mean God does not exist. The recognition that Christians sin is only more evidence that God does exist, and that Christianity is true. If a person rejects Christianity because of imperfect people, then he is also rejecting the only possible way to make sense of people’s imperfections. Christianity gives the only intelligible basis for the imperfections among men, and the only consistent incentive for fighting against hypocrisy and imperfection.


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