What came first? The chicken or the egg?
I guess the answer depends on whether you are a creationist or a evolutionary theorist? But, that’s a discussion for another day.
I’m left wondering a different birth order, what came first? The hypocrites or the nones?
If you’re not sure what a “none” is, let me explain. First off, I am not misspelling a catholic sister often known as a nun. The “nones” is a new term in the United States religious landscape used to describe a growing number of people who identify themselves with no religion. When it comes to religion, they have none. Subsequently, they began to referred to as the “nones.”
The term has gained notoriety by Christians (mostly Pastors) in our country who are concerned about a rapid decline in church attendance. Participation with or in church is on the descent. Fewer and fewer people in American consider the weekly pilgrimage to church as a necessary part of life.
Fear is growing that America is becoming less Christian. What once everyone considered to be a Christian nation is now experiencing a growing population of non-religious. Nones.
Recognizing the trend, pastors and church leaders are asking why? Why are so many people turning away from church? One resounding answer is: Hypocrisy.
Too many people in the Church are hypocrites. Churches are full of people who believe one thing yet live another. Their walk contradicts their talk. The “nones” want nothing to do with religion like that.
Still, I’m left wondering, what came first? The hypocrites or the nones? Did hypocrites lead to people becoming “nones?” Or did the “nones” lead to recognizing hypocrites?
Hypocrites have been around for a long time. At least since Jesus’ day, they have been earning the title. Jesus says to the religious leaders, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13 NRSV) Then, check out what he follows it up with, he says, “For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven.”
I don’t think Jesus’ words were inspiration for Bruno Mar’s song, Locked Out of Heaven. But, they do sound alarmingly familiar to the response of the “nones.” Hypocrisy is uninspiring. It functions like a natural deterrent. None want to follow people who “do not practice what they teach.” (Matthew 23:3 NRSV)
I’m not sure we can ever answer who came first. It seems like hypocrites, but I don’t think everyone would be generous enough to give them that much credit. Regardless, one thing seems obvious. Hypocrisy is antithetical to the way of Jesus. God’s kingdom will never be built on it. Wherever it exists, people will be turned away from it.
I’d rather be a “none” than a hypocrite. I don’t want to be responsible for locking anyone out of heaven.
So I pray with and for the Church, “God, forgive us of our inconsistencies and contradictions. Open our eyes to see the things that need to change. Soften our hearts to accept responsibility to make things right. Strengthen our spirits to live what you teach us to believe. Reconcile us to those we have have hurt and pushed away. For your kingdom to come. Amen.”
What do you think comes first?