Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hypocrisy and Acceptance in a Culture stripped of Grace

Last night a good friend of mine, who is a Christian apologist, mentioned that one of the most common questions she is asked is the question of hypocrisy in the Church. Her typical answer to this question is to remind the questioner that the Church is made up of people, and people will fail. While this is certainly true, the fact that this answer is used and accepted points to something deeper in our culture; that is, we live in a culture stripped of Grace.
How many times have you heard of a coach that has gotten his team to the playoffs, but when the team loses the playoff game it seems that everyone is calling for his resignation. Or how about when a good pitcher has a bad day? For our culture, failure is not an option, and it seems that moral failure is equated with hypocrisy. This is of course a departure from the original meaning of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy by definition means that we would pretend to believe something that we don't actually believe, or to hide our true self behind a false exterior. And I believe that since we live in a culture stripped of Grace, this has become the norm for many; and maybe that is why we don't label it hypocrisy any more. We all tend to hide traits, values, or preferences that a particular group may find unacceptable. When in a church setting we may try to hide an addiction, or anger, or doubt. And in a group of our peers at work or at school, we may hide something as simple as still liking Disney movies, we may hide our feelings, or we may even go against our conscience. We do this because there is a deep longing for acceptance that we can't deny and, in a culture stripped of Grace, the last thing you would want to do is to admit your flaws. Oh we have our moments when the facade falls apart and everyone gets to have a moment of honesty, but then we are expected to get it together and move on.
I think the thing that drives hypocrisy, or hiding is the graceless culture we live in. I must admit that it's one thing to recognize that we live in a graceless culture, and it's quite another thing to practice grace. It's a struggle for me, a coping mechanism I learned early on was to not give second chances to people who hurt me. It will probably take a lifetime to unlearn that, but it is definitely something I will strive to do.

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