My name is Dan Nold and I’m a recovering Christian. That’s how we ended this weekend’s talk at Calvary. It was apology #1 in our UnChristian series — sorry for our hypocrisy. I felt a little odd saying that statement, “I’m a recovering Christian.” It puts Christianity on par with AA — Christians Anonymous. But in so many ways in the eyes of the next generation the word Christianity is on par with alcoholism. We can say, That ain’t fair.” But fair or not, our press isn’t too good at the moment.
And let’s be honest, there are reasons why our press isn’t good — take hypocrisy for example.
In a Barna study released in 2007, they found that most of the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians was statistically the equivalent of those who were not born-agains. Christians were just as likely to gamble or visit a pornographic website, we were just as likely to take something that didn’t belong to us, just as likely to consult a pyschic or medium, and just as likely to get drunk. We were just as likely to get in a fight, abuse someone or take drugs. We were just as likely to have lied or said something mean behind someone else’s back.
Do you know where we were different? We flip people off less often and we were less likely to have bought a lottery ticket in the last 30 days.
When I read that I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. No wonder I get weird looks from Christians when I show them my lottery ticket. I didn’t realize it was one of the two essential qualities that define a Christian. I mean isn’t that what we teach our kids or tell our friends. If you want to be a Christian, limit your lottery tickets and put away your middle finger.
Is it any wonder we are charged with hypocrisy? Is this what Jesus wanted Christians to be marked by? NO. He said that we would be known as his followers by the quality of your love, by the size of your heart, by the depth of your passion for God and your capacity to love your neighbor.
Don’t miss this. The reason we struggle with hypocrisy is that we have prioritized the wrong things. We have prioritized sin avoidance, rather than prioritizing the expansion of the capacity of our hearts. I’m not saying that flipping people off is okay. I’m simply saying that it doesn’t matter what we do with our middle finger if our hearts are small.
So this week, I’ll be holding my rag (if you want to understand the rag reference, you’ll have to listen to the talk