So what now, then? Everyday I see Christians being hypocrites and, honestly, I'm one of them. I don't live a perfect life and I hope no one expects me to, but you can be sure I'm trying my hardest with God's help to be all I can be as a Christian and not be a hypocrite. I think it's less about what we do though and more how we act. In my understanding, the reason people think we are hypocrites is because of the judgment they feel. Maybe it's because they actually feel guilty for something, but my guess is that we are actually judging them even though we have no right. Jesus was an excellent example of how to love the person but gracefully show them that's not the way to go. Jesus shows us how to be kind and forgiving whether we agree with someone's life or not.
Let's take a look at the Bible. In John 4, we read a story of Jesus talking to a woman at the well. Women were not well regarded in the culture Jesus lived in and add onto that the fact that she was a Samaritan and you've got a bad combo back in the days. And, yet, we still see Jesus engage in a conversation with her which would not have gone over well with the culture and any onlookers. However, Jesus couldn't have cared less! He engaged in a conversation with her to show her that he didn't care what others thought and that he was all about love and truth. Jesus didn't care about cultural boundaries. He didn't care about race or money or gender or political affiliation, he cared about the woman at the well. As the story progresses, Jesus not only engages her and asks her about her life, but he tells her about himself as well and helps her get to know him. At that point, he begins to share about the Truth (the gospel and, ultimately, Himself), but this only happens after he gets to know her and she gets to know him. He continues to reveal himself to her and share what ultimately saves (faith in Christ).
This story is important for a couple reasons: 1) Jesus never judges her or yells at her or tells her she's going to hell for the way she's living (she had multiple husbands and slept around); 2) he was friendly and got to know her before speaking about salvation; and 3) Jesus is gracious through the whole scenario. He never hounds her for her promiscuous lifestyle but instead speaks truth. The woman, after talking with Jesus, runs into town and tells people about her encounter (another lesson we can learn--when we hear truth, we share it).
Jesus is such a great example of how to live our lives and how to be gracious in all we do. I think the way we can start to change the perception of how people view Christians is to start loving like Jesus loved and start acting the way Jesus acted. Jesus never judged someone or hated them for their actions (we're talking Jesus to non-believers so in our case us (Christians) to non-believers, not Christian to Christian, that's different). Pick up your Bible and read the New Testament and I promise there will be scenario after scenario of how Jesus was gracious and understanding with non-believers. So, why aren't we living like that? Why aren't we showing love and grace the way Jesus did? I'm asking that you check yourself. Are you being a hypocrite and judging non-believers for the life they are living or are you being gracious and loving? We are called to live like Jesus, so start living like Jesus.