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Last updated: Sep 23, 2013
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Bob, you were very helpful in answering a question for me a while ago. I hope you can help me again. I am dealing with extreme bitterness aimed toward Christians (I am a Christian myself) based on all the hypocrisy I have seen over the years. I feel like I don't want to belong to the Christian community any longer because I am disappointed in what I see. I have come to believe that I have been a hypocrite myself and just want to no longer associate myself with other Christians. I find that there is a "game" going on. I see Christianity as a religion and not a personal relationship with Jesus. People must appear "spiritually correct" and what they say is never what they do. ( I include myself in that category). I no longer want to behave that way and find it is easier to be myself around non-believers. I find Christians are at their worst on Sunday mornings. That is truly not how they behave during the rest of the week. I am disgusted.
I have seen many people behave one way at church and very different outside of that environment like in the work place or out in public when they don't realize another Christian may be watching. I have been lied to by people in the ministry. I no longer attend church. People I thought were my friends don't want to associate with me because I no longer attend church. I keep my bitterness to myself and only express my feelings to my husband. But it is depressing me and affecting my mood so much I can't stand myself anymore. Perhaps this is more than you are willing to deal with but I was just wondering with your biblical insight you might be able to shed some light on something for me. I understand if you don't want to.
I almost weep as I sense your frustration and disappointment with the "Christian community". I have felt, the same way you do about most "organized Christianity". It fits your description much too often in our area also.
I believe the problem we see with the modern "church" is described to a "T" in Rev. 3:14-22, where it is described as "making Jesus sick". This passage describes the last "type" of the church in the Church Age, in the closing moments, just before Jesus returns to "catch us up in the air". (Amazingly, the "church at Laodicea" means "the church of human rights")
I guess I have learned to "make lemonade out of the lemons", and the "sickness" of the organized church just makes me more joyful in the knowledge that Jesus is that much closer to taking us home to live and reign with him forever.
To me, the answer is to replace our "bitterness" with the "joy of the Lord" and a strong dose of "forgiveness".
Phil. 2:3 states "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves". This means to me, to assume that other Christians are actually more spiritual than I am - even if they look like hypocrites on the surface. From God's viewpoint, every one of His children have areas of strength and areas of weakness, and my weakness may be another persons strength. A Christian that I see as a hypocrite may very well be, in an overall sense, closer to God than I am. There is no way for me to know, and I'm sure that I can't see my faults as good as other people can. Jesus paid for all the sins of all His people - He forgives them and we should also.
I see lots of reasons for people to leave the organized church feeling hurt and bitter, but I think that should cause us to turn to God Himself and His Revealed and Living Word. If we can find an organized church we can "fit into", that's great. But it's for sure that we should forgive all the hurtful "church people". We need fellowship and Bible study, even if it is just with Christian friends.
I also believe that we are all "hypocritical" at times, and to some extent. The Apostle Paul had to chew out the Apostle Peter for hypocrisy in Gal. 2:11-14. But God loves all His children - even the "stinkers", we should love them too. And God defines the love ("agape", translated "charity" in the KJV) that comes from Him in 1 Cor. 13:4-7.
I believe that we are missing three very important things in most in "organized Christianity" today:
1. Recognizing the Grace of God - that we don't earn or deserve anything - that we cannot DO ANYTHING that pleases God except when HE controls us with his Spirit and motivates us to do it. That when we are "out of fellowship", we are controlled by our "sin nature", as Paul describes in Romans chap 6 & 7, and even our apparently "good works", while we are out of fellowship, are like "filthy rags" as Isa. 64:6 states, and they make Jesus sick at his stomach - because the works came from our will and energy and not from God. Under "Grace" also is "Forgiveness". God, in His Grace has forgiven us, and "growing in Christ" should help us to forgive others.
2. Understanding that the Christian walk requires a moment by moment maintaining of our "fellowship" with the Lord via 1 John 1:9 and INSTANT confession of sin to our loving heavenly Father - even for a bad thought that creeps unwanted into our mind. We must maintain our FELLOWSHIP with God, if we don't, we are an "organized group of sin natures". When we are "in fellowship", God motivates us to joyfully do his will and what we do pleases him and is the basis of rewards in time and eternity. But, if we have unconfessed sin in our life, we act just like the "hypocrite Christians" you describe. Honest confession of our sin to the Father brings the joy and the power of God back into our lives and the ability to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
3. Recognizing that there are only two important things on this earth: The Word of God and people. Everything else is going to be burned up with a fervent heat, but the Word of God and people will last forever. (I like the bumper sticker that says "Eternity, smoking or non-smoking"). The Scripture states in Psa 138:2 that God has "Magnified His Word above His name". We need lots of really rich Bible study and reading to grow up in the Christian life. And, I believe bitterness towards those who have hurt us fades as we pay more attention to God's Word.
My web site, BibleFood.com is the result of typing up 30 years of hand written Bible study notes into the computer. And I placed them on the web for the few "hungry Christians" that realize that they are not getting enough of God's "food" to grow and have the joy of the Lord.
I believe that God loves all His children with an infinite love, and wants them to "grow" and wants to bless them with inner peace and joy, as well as temporal blessings. I believe God has a place for you in the community you live in, a place of joy and growth and service, even if it is with a single "Bible study buddy", or a small Bible study group. My prayer is that God will connect you with some of his children who feel the same way you do, and that you will be filled with the joy of the Lord, and His Grace, and not bitterness, Heb 12:15.
We will remember you in our prayers at church.
Written in Christian love, yours "in Christ",
Bob Jones (and Mary)