(This is the second response to my friend with very honest questions, I asked if I could post my replies but I'm keeping his private, but I think my replies are pretty stand-alone)To read Part 1: http://isaacdeitz.com/2011/01/what-pulled-me-into-christianity/
A lot of people either lose their faith or reject the faith because of other people's hypocrisy. It's really hard to believe in a God of Love when all his followers are doing just the opposite.
Romans 2:24 "For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” basically saying, people hate me because of your actions and failure to love.
On one hand it makes so much sense to be cautious of the idea of God when the people that believe in Him don't seem to live any different than the rest of the world.
I used to tell people I hated hot-chocolate. I nearly lost friends because of my hate for hot chocolate. What kid doesn't like hot chocolate? Especially in New York where hot drinks are for survival. Turns out my mom, trying to save some money, would give us kids half a packet with a full mug of water. It basically tasted like hot brown water. It was horrible. It wasn't until I had the real hot chocolate that I realized I actually thoroughly enjoy hot chocolate.
I think, like I mentioned in that blog, we are often taught the gospel of morality. So when people, like your parents and anyone else, realizes they can't jump through all the hoops the morality gospel requires, people start pretending like they are jumping through those hoops. When doing things and not doing other things is the standard for being a good Christian, people start doing them and eventually failing miserably.
I heard someone use an analogy that makes so much sense when trying to understand the true gospel of grace. We are like orange trees, we naturally bare oranges. God requires us to bare apples, not oranges. But he doesn't just ask us to, but he give us the grace that, no matter how many oranges in the past we made, he can turn our core into an apple tree. He doesn't ask us anything that he doesn't provide for us first. But a lot of people miss that, they think that if they start hiding all the oranges and tying apples to their branches they might convince God that they are apple trees. Eventually, if you wait a while, you'll start seeing oranges grow again.
The oranges are our sins, we are naturally sinners. So no matter what we do, we will end up sinning, that's why it's so hard to stop. In the Bible, one of the writers, Paul, writes about trying to do good but eventually always failing: "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out". (Romans 7:18) If you read more verses around that, he explains more.
So basically, a lot of people try so hard to look like they aren't sinners, without admitting that they are sinners, and allowing Jesus to take their place and justify them before God.
When we start to understand that Jesus accepts us how we are, forgives us for how ever many and how ever big of oranges we think we have done, he loves us and accepts us. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". (Matthew 11:28)
So many times we try to make ourselves presentable before God. Which since he is a Holy, perfect God and a holy God would have to love Justice, we have to realize that we cannot make ourselves presentable before God. So we might try by being nicer, holding doors open for people or even setup a nice set of new years resolutions that try to make us a better person. But you and I both know, everyone gives up on those in a few months. It's because we are naturally sinners, like Paul says; "I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out". But the great thing is, which is so much more relieving, the reason Jesus died on the cross was to make us presentable before God. Through Jesus we are made righteous in the eyes of God.
So in nothing we do or can do will make us presentable before God, but if we depend and trust on Jesus to take our place and make us righteous we can then live a new life. We'll still have problems, and temptations and still fall, but that is the amazing thing about God's grace. Which brings me to the other hand of seeing so much hypocrisy in the Church: we are all sinners and Jesus loves us despite all our hypocrisy and sin. He knew we would be failures and he knew we wouldn't love him as much as he loves us.
"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:22
There is something so beautiful about seeing so much hypocrisy in the church and seeing God still love them. Every time I see a Christian proclaim the name of God on their lips but their hearts and actions are far from God, I am even more amazed at God's love for them, even when they are so horrible. That includes me.
The whole cartoon idea of a God that throws down thunder bolts at anyone that swears or gossips or commits adultery is not fully the God of the Bible. Though Biblically, He has struck people down, that reminds me all the time that he can, but it's by his mercy that he hasn't. That reason is His mercy. God can strike any of us down at any time, but every minute he doesn't is another sign of his amazing Grace.
I hope that makes sense.