I have heard - maybe thousands of times – people say that they do not go to church because they do not want to be a hypocrite. What they mean is that they have sin in their lives and going to church would be hypocritical for them. I respect everyone’s right not to go to church, but I also have the right to say how crazy that reason really is.
Being a sinner and going to church is not hypocrisy. Going to church and pretending not to be a sinner is hypocrisy. Everyone who goes to church is sinful. What better place for sinful people to be than the place that offers them the one person who can help deal with their sin… Jesus.
Imagine someone saying, “I cannot go to the hospital because I have cancer” or “I will go back to the hospital after I get rid of all of my cancer by myself.” That is just insane. Hospitals exist for sick people. They are not surprised when sick people show up. They do not tell them to leave because they are sick or try to hide the fact that sick people come there.
Church is for sinners like you, me, and Billy Graham. Jesus did not die so a bunch of self-righteous people can gather once a week and feel proud of how good they are. He died so sinful people can have a genuine relationship with Him and with each other. The problem has been that churches have told sinners that they are not welcome and sinners have used their sin as an excuse not to go. There is plenty of blame to go around.
I John 1:8-10 offers some clarity:
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
So, we are all sinners and should be honest about it. We come together in church not to hide our sin but to confess it to Him and to each other. As we take off our masks two major things happen to our sins in verse 9… He “forgives” us (the guilt and shame go away) and He “purifies” us (the power of sin and addiction begins to fade).
If you do not go to church this Sunday, that is your choice. I thank God that we have freedom to go or not to go to church. But please do not use the old “hypocrisy” excuse.