Mark Twain once said that there was nothing worse than a man who sets a good example. To invert Twain’s aphorism we end up with “there is nothing better than a man who sets a bad example.” Why? Because it lets us all off the hook of having to live up to such a lofty and noble standard. Let us put this in the dynamic of the perspective of today’s prevalent Christian hypocrisy and the perception of it in the good ole US of A.
I often hear a common unintelligent excuse of not looking into the Christ story go like this, “It’s all rubbish! Why look at all of those Christian hypocrites! I could never consider giving my life to that.” I empathize with the excuse, but it does not seem to make any sense. I am very suspicious of anyone that uses that same old rag of an excuse. So, usually my response is, “Have you once in your whole life ever committed an act of hypocrisy?” To which any honest person worth their salt will stop and say, “Well, of course, I have.” Then I would reply with, “Well, then he without hypocrisy cast the first accusation.” This is the great leveler that puts the unbeliever in the same category with the Christian hypocrite.
Now, this rather seemingly innocuous exchange may at first glance just seem to underline the commonness of the inadequacy of ethics in humans in general, but as one probes deeper it becomes apparent why unbelievers love Christian hypocrites. It is the perfect excuse for not having to look at the Christ story for themselves just as it is unfiltered by a Christian hypocrisy. Let us make no mistake about it: unbelievers say that they hate Christian hypocrites but THEY LOVE THEM! In fact –they need them. What would they do without them? For without them they would be without excuse. And being without excuse is an embarrassment.
Just as Twain’s man who sets a good example ruins the party so to speak, in a way, a real example (rare I admit) of Christian piety would really up the ante for today’s unbeliever. Just what would the average unbeliever do with a real honest to goodness Christian that they could not find fault with, no matter how hard they try? Let us suppose for discussion sake that the Christian in question doesn’t talk much about the faith but lives like Christ day in and day out. How long could the unbeliever who is around him day in and day out hold out from at least considering looking into the Christ story?
My guess is that the average unbeliever would keep loving the Christian hypocrites and eventually hate the real Christian. This makes no sense. It should be the other way around. But Jesus and the Apostles were not killed for nothing. Their lives exposed hypocrisy in man across the board. This is why the unbeliever in question that has it all backwards is a double hypocrite. But, if the unbeliever were an honest seeker and not just a typical shallow blameshifting escapist, he or she might… in the light of such a rare Christian example realize the folly of their unreasonable position and stop ignoring the Christ story.
But of course all of this comes with a warning: looking seriously and sincerely into such a singular and unique story opens one up to the possibility of divine revelation that leads to inner transformation which leads to eternal life. It’s a slippery slope. And let’s be honest, who really wants the demands of eternal salvation to get in the way of life of selfish convenience? Why, its much easier to keep one’s heart closed up and hard as a rock toward God and one’s finger accusing others acting just like the Christian hypocrites they say they despise.