When I lived at home, I had a phone conversation that annoyed me but also provoked and enlightened me. I was washing dishes when the phone rang. It was a former neighbor who wanted to speak with my mother about some job papers. I told him she was not in; she was at church. And with that, his rant began about why he had no need for church.
He said that he was made to attend church when he was young and didn’t like it then for the same reason he didn’t currently go: hypocrites. He tired of people who were supposedly holy while secretly being the transgressors of everything they preached against. He felt that if being religious is how one wants to lead his or her life, fine; however, if a person desires to be free of religion, fine again.
He said he wanted to be able to dance and drink as he pleased. He even brought up homosexuality, that if he wanted to court other men—if that were his M.O.—then he should feel free to do so. It is every person’s right to be happy according to how he or she deems necessary. He was a good man, after all, and did no harm to his neighbor. In the end, he could serve God at home.
I stood there listening and not saying much of anything because I know when a person doesn’t care to hear the contrary, although I wasn’t afraid to challenge him. Honestly, with the way the conversation was going (me holding the phone to my ear with him spewing against everything holy), I affirmed his answers to help me get rid of him quicker! I also knew that if I tried to express my belief, an argument would have ensued; however, the scriptures warn against falling into this trap.
So he continued stating and restating his spiel. Maybe it wasn’t a moment to make a convert or to plant a seed, but it was a teaching moment from the Holy Spirit to me.
I have read those Christian worker aides on how to witness to others. Sometimes they’re found in the back of Bibles with faith-sharing messages to counter specific arguments. In seminary, I really benefited from an apologetics course I took. But all that I had ever learned took a backseat to this moment. What I gathered from this man was the real reason why he didn’t serve God. The hypocrite argument is the first one many will throw in the faces of devout people, but the hypocrite argument is a fallacy.
We all know how distasteful it is for a person to claim Jesus and all-things-holy only to turn the corner and get down with the Devil. But for a person to say he or she doesn’t serve God because of rotten apples doesn’t remove righteous responsibility from his or her shoulders. This man had missed the point: spiritual conversion. If you mean to serve God, then God you will serve.
Furthermore, when God gives you a command, his concern is not with a thousand other people and how they are living. His concern is with your obedience to him. You may be the one he desires to bring light to all those walking in error. It is simply illogical to say you don’t serve God because Persons A, B, and C aren’t living right
The real reason why this man didn’t serve God was because he refused to live his life God’s way, even with a God-fearing wife. Unfortunately, factored into his obstinance might have been many incorrect expectations and examples of what holy living entails, which would require good teaching to correct. But his defiance of God was not due to another person, as he had convinced himself. It was just what it was, a defiance of God. Sorrowfully, this man passed away about a month ago.