You might look at the teachings of Jesus as presented in the Christian bible. Then you might look at what people calling themselves Christians are doing and saying. Noting that those two things don’t quite line up, you might ask yourself the question: Has Christianity failed?
Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
—Matthew 6:1–4 (MSG)
In Jesus’ day there were self-righteous, divisive people who put on a show about being religious in public while completely missing the point of the religious teachings. Christianity can’t stop that any more that Judaism or Jesus himself could. People will do what people will do. Jesus’ teachings don’t tell Christians to do anything about that beyond: Don’t be like them! Modern-day Pharisees aren’t evidence that Christianity is failing.
Perhaps more importantly, being Christian doesn’t mean being perfect. It means—when you’re doing it right—recognizing that you aren’t perfect and wanting to become perfect. The most authentic Christian makes mistakes. Christians making mistakes isn’t evidence that Christianity is failing.
When Christianity succeeds, it seldom makes headlines. Which, the gospel of Matthew tells us, is exactly how the Christ said it should be.
And that’s true for other faiths as well. Don’t judge a faith by the headlines.