Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The "Good Christian" Hypocrite

For some good context on this post, check out this talk by Os Guinness on the Veritas Forum.

I was wandering around the office doing menial chores when I thought of a good subject based purely on my subjective experiences. As such, I need to preface this by saying that the stories I relate here are done so to the best of my knowledge, understanding and recollection, and thus may not necessarily be the truth as is, but are the truth as is known to me. Such is the nature of anecdotal evidence. And that's the truth.

You really need to listen to this talk by Os Guinness as it explores the one critical flaw in all of Christendom: Christians. Christians are human, therefore weak and frail as moral beings. They often make mistakes, have accidents, and generally do things they don't think about beforehand. It is this admission that leads to faith in Christ. So if these things are just the usual, why does it matter, why cannot Christians and indeed anyone, just go on doing whatever they please? Because Christians are supposed to be held to a higher standard. The standard of the perfection of Christ. An unobtainable goal for sure, but a goal nonetheless.

Here's a story with a few inconsistencies. I know a guy. He is married and has an unmarried young adult daughter. He claims to be a strong Christian, and gives talks to his church's youth group from time to time. He abstains from alcohol in order to not be a bad influence on the teens that may visit his home. He pays for his daughter's birth control. He told me once how he loved his church because the pastor never mentioned money or preached about tithe and there was only a small box in the back for offerings. He later was asking around about different churches because his had ran out of money and gone under. A number of times I have heard him on the phone being quite short with his family, and sometimes using swear words.

Did you spot the inconsistencies, the hypocrisies? Is he a good Christian? On the outside, sure, why not. But what is the picture he is painting when he is not paying attention? What is the fruit growing on his "of the spirit" tree? What he is saying to the world is that he claims to not be one of them, but really shows very few distinguishing features. His tree blends into the rest of the forest.

To quote a DC Talk song, "this is what an unbelieving world finds so hard to believe."

Now I have to pause here to say something. I don't consider myself better than anyone. But I do consider Christ better than all, and I take offense when someone sullies his name. And that even includes me. Paul said "This is a faithful word ... that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." I claim that verse, I know who I am, but Jesus knows me better.

Now for a silly story. I was visiting my father, and at the time, he had a guy from his church staying with him. Now my dad of course had to work every day, and I was there for two weeks and in a rush to do nothing, so I sat down to read for a while. At the time, I was reading the fourth or fifth Harry Potter book. A good read, and it is fiction after all. So this guy walked in, and seeing me reading "the devil's guide to childhood witchcraft," promptly picked up his Bible and unceremoniously started reading it in the most conspicuous way possible, in the couch next to mine. It didn't bother me, I just kept reading. So it happened at that time, that every time he walked in and I was reading a Harry Potter book, he repeated the same ritual, as if the reading of another book had some power to combat the reading of my book. Now certainly, the Bible has power in it's words, but it is not a sin to read anything, though it may be with a certain intent. I have read portions of the NWT, the Quran, The Book of Mormon, the Satanic Bible, the Tao Te Ching, the Hindu Vedas, and all of the Harry Potter books as of the time of this writing. There is no sin in any of this for me. But perhaps I was causing him to sin, I don't know.

So what is a good witness? If you see someone in the park reading Harry Potter, should you whip out your Bible and go sit next to them and read it? If your wife calls you on your cell phone while you are sitting there, do you answer "What the H#@$ do you want now?" What kind of witness is that? What would Jesus do?

So many times, we just think that we are Christians and our lives will show others that fact, but in reality, we really need to make an effort. Nothing comes automatic, when you get saved, everything just doesn't click over, some of it takes time and effort.

So, try not to be a hypocrite. And if you are not yet a believer, remember, Jesus was never a hypocrite.

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