What causes the world to label Christians as hypocrites? Could it be our lack of love for one another, not to mention those around us? Or perhaps it is our infighting? Maybe it is our lack of “goodness”? Aren’t we supposed to have our acts together?
I think there is a kernel of truth in all of those. We lack in love, the true love of Jesus, or at least in how we communicate that love. When problems occur, we often “shoot our wounded”. Instead of arguing, perhaps we ought to “agree to disagree” on minor doctrinal (not theological) differences. And what about our being “good”? None of us are “good enough”, but the world expects us to be doing better than most, since we claim to have Christ in our lives.
Do we have our “acts” together? That is something we all desire and strive for, but as Paul states in Romans, our human nature prevents us…
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” ~ Romans 7:18-25
Once we believe in Jesus and are redeemed, we long to do what is right, not because we must in order to keep our salvation, but because we want to please God. We want to make our heavenly Father proud!
Yet there is a constant battle between the old sin nature still within, and the new creation God has made us (2 Corinthians 5:17). O wretched men that we are!
Thank God our salvation does not depend on our “goodness”, but on God’s grace ~ unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
Do we really have anything to boast about? Nope. Any and every good thing in our lives is from God ~ whether it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working through us and in us, or simply the shower of blessings from above (James 1:17). All the credit, all the glory, is God’s alone.
As I am reading through Acts, I am humbled and amazed by the early Church. The book of Acts is also called “The Acts of the Apostles”. But sometimes it is referred to as “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”, and I find that a more accurate title. The apostles would never have accomplished all of those “Acts” without the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the early Church wouldn’t have been as beautiful, as “good”. Were they perfect? No. But they were striving to please their heavenly Father!
The Holy Spirit helped them get their “acts” together. And that, dear friends, is how we are able to get our “acts” together ~ in Christ alone, by God’s grace, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Will we ever be perfect, or “good enough”? Someday. God will complete us, and perfect us, when it is time.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” ~ Philippians 1:6
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:1