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I recently read a study that claimed more and more young adults today are turning away from Christianity. One of the top reasons that these young adults gave was not a theological one, but the fact that the Christians they had known were characterized by hypocrisy—they were pretenders—judging others and pretending to be somebody they were not.[1]

Shortly after I was ordained a priest, I ran into an old friend from high school. He asked me what I did for a living. When I told him that I was an Episcopal priest, we began to talk about Christianity, and eventually he told me that he could no longer bring himself to go to church because it was full of hypocrites, to which I responded, “You know, you’re probably right. How would you like to join the rest of us hypocrites this coming Sunday?”

The truth is, to a certain extent, we are all hypocrites. From time to time, most of us have pretended to be somebody we are not. I don’t believe those who have left the church are looking for Christians to be perfect. Instead, I think they are looking for us to be honest, vulnerable and authentic.

I think they want us to want to be what we say we are—followers of Christ—accepting, caring and loving all people. This is exactly what Jesus does throughout the Gospels. He welcomes the outcasts and marginalized, and treats them as beloved children of God. Because of this, they cannot seem to get enough of Him. Everywhere Jesus goes, sinners are drawn to Him by the thousands. The more He tells them about God and His unlimited love, the more they want to know and the more they want to change—to become more than they were before!

There is an old tradition on large Australian ranches located on often-dry land that there are two ways of keeping cattle on the ranch. One is to build a fence; the other is to dig a well. What a gift it might be to a world that has become increasingly polarized and politicized if we, as the Church, would be utterly committed to Jesus as our center; no fences to keep others out, just the life-giving water of Jesus, drawing people ever closer to His presence.

A Prayer for Today
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 815)
[1] Barna Group. Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation: Barna Group: Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2018.
The Rev. Dr. Chad T. Martin
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