Excuse: People who go to church are a bunch of hypocrites!
Answer: Churchgoers pretend to be good for a few hours on Sunday morning but they are like everyone else the rest of the week. A common misunderstanding about church is that it should somehow make us better people. As discussed above, it is not the action of going to church, but the encounter with God and others that changes our lives for the better. Most people who go to church do not understand this and thus do not seek to have life changing experiences through worship and church activities.
Christians are humans who believe that Jesus is God and that He has made us acceptable to Himself by paying the penalty for our sins on the cross (Romans 6:23). Therefore, what makes Christians unique is not the outward appearance but what God has done on the inside by changing the soul and mind (2 Corinthians 5:17). Those who sincerely call upon Jesus to save them from their sins experience a spiritual birth that gradually transforms the mind and behavior conforming us to His will (John 1:12; Romans 12:1-2).
Christians can be seen to be hypocrites more easily than someone who does not profess any beliefs because Christian standards are defined in the Bible, whereas personal standards can be changed to fit circumstances or are unknown to others. The bottom line is that all humans are hypocrites because we all fail to consistently live up to any standards of behavior that are defined. The difference is that Jesus forgives the hypocrisy of believers and has sent His Holy Spirit to guide and transform those who know Him as Savior and confess Him as Lord (Romans 10:9-10).
Excuse: Church is unnecessary since private prayer and Bible study can be done without others.
Answer: The Bible says that believers must not keep apart from other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is true that we are influenced and become like the people we associate with. Also, by getting together, common beliefs are affirmed and ways to overcome problems are shared. There are three spiritual pillars to have a strong Christian life: personal prayer, Bible study and fellow believers. To rely on less than all three is like trying to sit on a one or two-legged stool. Three legs are needed for a firm foundation and proper function.
Excuse: Churches impose a bunch of rules and then make you feel guilty if you don't measure up.
Answer: One of the biggest reasons for the breakdown of families is the lack of moral standards. Most people who call themselves Christians cannot even say the Ten Commandments much less live by them. Without moral standards, it is easier to do your own thing and not feel guilty about it. Guilt is part of our conscience and is a gift from God to help us do good.
It is true that sometimes people make us feel guilty. During these times it is important to seek God's view through prayer and reading the Bible. This means it is necessary to be familiar with the Bible enough to discern whether others are making us feel guilty or if God is trying to get our attention. I am convinced that there are many Christians who are doing good works out of guilt rather than because they want to love and serve God.
Warren Mueller, a contributor for About.com, has written six books and over 20 articles since starting his writing endeavors on Christmas Eve of 2002. He believes there is no substitute for searching the Bible to better know God and walk in his ways. To contact him or for more information, visit Warren's Bio Page.