Hypocrisy and French Onion Soup

Photo Credit to www.sodahead.com

“Why are so many Christians hypocrites?” she* asked. “Not you or your sister and parents, but so many others,” she muttered, staring at the sandwich in front of her. “Pretending perfect, they go to church, but we all see it.”

Snow flies past the window and onto the slushy sidewalks outside Panera Bread. Inside in cozy heat, we sit at tiny tables, eating french onion soup and creamy avocado-topped sandwiches.

Just two years apart in age, we had grown up together, and learned about Jesus from the same people. In the past fifteen years, however, we had walked different directions with the Jesus-question. That never stopped our friendship, though, and our talks continued, over coffee, over the phone, and over sandwiches.

“Well, I think we all wrestle with it,” I admit, wiping crumbs off the table and thinking hard.

“Now, you remember that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, right? Or that being a good person doesn’t get you into heaven? But I think that most of the time we humans fall into the concept of trying to earn our way –keeping track of the good and bad we do and comparing ourselves to others. Even though the Bible is clear that none of us can earn our way to God and that this new relationship with God is only a gift from him (open to anyone) — still, I think we too often forget. Falling back into the trap of trying to do good or look good, and trying to disregard the junk in our life, we’re really just trying to convince ourselves. So, for me…” I pause.

She listens, while I swirl my glass, obviously still in thought.

“I’m trying to remember that my being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that I have to be perfect. In fact, it means admitting with God that I’m not– saying sorry for my junk and thanking him that his plan works. This freedom of not having to earn my way is liberating, and should free me to talk honestly about the things I wrestle with. Admitting my junk, being the first to bring it up, and saying sorry (to God, to others) is freeing. Knowing that Jesus loves me deeply and unconditionally brings such joy!”

“So when you see hypocrisy, it’s often because people don’t know about God’s system and are trying to earn it on their own; or that we’ve forgotten and think we have to flash our good and deny or hide away our bad, instead of just honestly handing it to God and saying sorry.”

She nods and I shut up, knowing it’s my turn to listen. Clearing her throat, she shifts position in her chair, and responds. Nodding, hearing, I swallow soup and see from her side of the table.

Snow continues to fall outside, and we laugh and talk, cracking jokes before falling serious again. It’s safe and humble, as we talk.

*Details changed for privacy. 

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose

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  1. Anonymous on March 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Paul gave me a book to read lately and I am little over half way through it. THE PRODIGAL GOD by Timothy Keller. It speaks to the subject you did today using the story of the Prodical Son. Keller claims there were two lost sons in this story…..recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith is the synopsis on the cover. I am humbled as I read.

  2. Alicia on March 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Oh, Jennifer, this conversation brings me to tears.. makes me long for many within my life to know the sweetness of Jesus, not the hypocricy of His broken people. Glad He can shine through our holes. Blessings on your week's end.

  3. Anonymous on March 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. It's so easy for me to use works and the appearance of goodness as a front to make myself seem more on-track with God, or to even attempt to propel me towards Him.
    Thank you for your kind note on my blog, too! Yours is lovely!


  4. Kelli Woodford on March 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    what a sweet relationship you are able to maintain! that she would ask you such a difficult question and know she is still safe in your heart — that's beautiful, Jennifer.

    thanks for telling your story with IP today!

  5. Josh on March 8, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Good conversation. Sounds like you said the right thing at the right time.

    Many times people are just going to church trying to make the best of things. They might act or look a certain way to grasp ahold of identity. Or they just don't want to be judged.

    Very glad for authentic Christianity. Thanks for sharing the post.

  6. Brother Ollie on March 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    impressive handling of a rather loaded question – a questioned I've asked, and a question I've answered poorly.

    thanks JD

  7. cabinart on March 9, 2013 at 6:54 am

    What an honest conversation on both your parts.

    It sure is a mystery to me how different people can sit in on the same teaching and some get it and others don't. I know, I know, it is explained in the parable about the seed falling on different types of soil, but it is still surprising to me.

    Great looking sandwich, BTW.

  8. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 2:50 am


    How do you like that book? I have heard great things about it, and my Mark has taught from it too. I like Keller's idea of God the Father as a lavishly-loving Dad. 🙂

    Yes, seeing ourselves in either of the brothers is convicting.

    Thanks for stopping in.


  9. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Oh Alicia,

    I have people I am praying fiercely, lovingly for too. May Jesus shine despite us, through us.

    Thanks for stopping by here.


  10. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 3:02 am


    I get this and wrestle with this too some days.

    Thanks for your sweet comment on my site too!


  11. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 3:05 am


    Glad you could stop over from the Imperfect Prose link up. Thank you. I love those conversations with friends and family too. I learn from them so much too.

    Have a great week. Nice to meet you.


  12. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 3:10 am


    You're right. Often people are wrestling with trying to make the best of things, or figuring out their identity. Thanks for stopping by here. Sorry for my delay in replying.


  13. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Hi Old Ollie,

    Thanks. I know I stumbled and stammered too live. This just captures it without as many stammers for ease of reading. I am just as often caught with a blank look after hard questions, saying, "That's a great question, and I have no idea." 🙂

    Fun to ponder life's questions with others… Thanks for stopping by.


  14. Jennifer Dougan on March 11, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Hi Cabinart,

    I'm amazed at how we can all remember different parts of God-talk too. Of course, this is from the girl who can read Agatha Christie's over and over again, not remembering who did it, so maybe I shouldn't talk. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by.


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