Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is It OK to be a Hypocrite?

A hypocrite is an awful thing to be. Jesus certainly doesn’t like them. To some extent, we all are hypocrites. We like to hold people to higher standards than we actually live, yet most of us realize we shouldn’t do that. And that leaves us with two options: Live by those high standards or change the standards.

I think most people today have changed the standards. “I’m sinful, so I can’t tell other people what to do or not do.” Soon, there are no standards or rules at all. People have to figure out “what works” for them. We’re a society that has no cohesion, no united morality, because things like morals, values, truth, and virtues have been stripped of the community and left to the individual.

The only rule is that no one can judge another’s choices because “no one is perfect.” We’re allowed to individually set the standard as low as we need it to be to reach it. And we get warm, happy feelings of being a “good person” as defined by our own standards. That’s the easy choice. Not holding your neighbor accountable for his actions means you can act however you want with no accountability as well.

I am a hypocrite. I have many weaknesses that I don’t tolerate in others. But I want hold myself to that higher standard too; I just suck at living up to it. That’s not true hypocrisy, but it is critical. It takes virtue and self-evaluation and big doses of humility and guilt. It takes work. I’d rather aim for the high standard, knowing I’m going to fall short, than sink into a world where goodness and truth are subjective at best (non-existent at worst). I know that without the grace of God, I damned. But that just means I should work harder, not throw a tantrum about “the system” and renounce it all.

That’s part of what being a Christian is: we struggle to live a high standard, to be like Christ, but we know we won’t. That doesn’t mean the standard is wrong. We are. We’re weak, and foolish, and lazy. But we should always strive to do better, and to hold one another accountable, all working together to be better and closer to God.

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