Monday, May 30, 2005

Hypocrites

Well, it happened again. There I was, chatting with a group of guys about religion, a non-practicing Jew, a Spiritualist, and myself, and I heard “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites.” Man, that hurts.

Those that don’t understand Christian theology think that Christians are supposed to be perfect, to live by the Ten Commandments and be Christ perfect in all we do. Those that do have a sense of Christian thinking may take it further – believing that Christians know they are forgiven, so they can act poorly without worry.

There are variations in Christian theology that point in different directions on this issue. Some Christians believe that through Faith alone, they are forgiven, that good works and behavior are not part of the equation. Some Christians believe that on top of Faith, they are judged by God for what they do on His behalf and how they carry themselves as His children in His creation.

But I’m not here to talk about theology; I’m here to talk about public perception of Christians and how we must reach higher in His name.

It is true that we are all hypocrites. By my theology we all sin in some way at some time, probably more than we care to admit to. Not all sin is viewable from the outside. Sin of thought is still sin. But I’m not here to talk about private sin either, it’s the stuff other people see that we must get a better handle on.

The secular public and those of other faiths rightly judge Christians by their actions. With so much media attention on Christianity, and fortunately the media is starting to speak about different Christian groups as separate entities, the Christian people of this country are getting considered by many from outside the church. This isn’t anything new, but it is happening to greater degree, I sense, than ever before.

And they call us hypocrites. Ouch.

Be aware that you are being watched. Realize that you are an example, to all others at all times, of a person of Christ.

Put forth His peace in all you do, treat every person you come in contact with the love Jesus called for. Show them kind consideration and caring for them as a person, especially those that seem to need it least, for they need it most.

When you know you will be in a situation that could become loud or unfriendly, say a prayer to yourself asking for God’s guidance in that discussion, that He may show the love of His Son through you to those you are with. Ask for calmness and understanding of the other person’s view or situation such that you can better comfort them or lessen their issue.

Know that if you don’t put forth the face of Christ, meaning a true show of compassion and reasoned care, you do harm to His name and His church. Know that by putting forth the face of Christ you bring glory to Him.

11 Comments:

Blogger JMG said...

I think one of the reasons non-Christians are so down on us is because so many Christians don't reach out to people outside their own group. Sure, churches have programs that minister to prisoners, the homeless, etc., but many church members don't actually get their hands dirty, so to speak, by associating with and developing relationships with society's "outcasts." The most that many of us do is throw some money in the offering plate on Sunday mornings and then say that we've done our part. I'll admit, it's hard to get out of that comfort zone. We should all pray for the grace to be able to be more like Christ and spread his love through humble servanthood.

5/30/2005 4:54 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

You are correct in all your statements, but I'll take it one further - we don't reach out enough to the people we know on a daily basis - at work, at school, at the soccer field, wherever.

The outcasts, the lesser of us, are reached out to very well and many have a pretty strong religious understanding, one way or the other depending on many factors. It's the folks that don't go to church at all, or on Christmas and Easter only, that may have the strongest opinions against outgoing and evangelical Christians.

Look for places and times among those you know outside of your worship group to speak of faith in a gentle, sharing and caring manner. Let go of it if you need to for their comfort, but once expressed as a Christian, show them what a Christian can be.

5/30/2005 5:47 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I believe that the reason others see Christians as hypocrites is because they don't see evidence of Christ in our lives. When we don't walk the walk as well as talk the talk others see that and assume we don't mean what we say. The two greatest commandments are "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul" and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Every aspect of Christian conduct needs to flow from obedience to these two commandments.

6/08/2005 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all of your comments. It begins with your neighbor, co-worker, etc. What has happened in this country is terrible- a complete polarization and the churches are swept up in the politics of shame. I was speaking to one of my gay co-workers the other day about perception of Christians, us vs. them talk, and so-called activist judges etc. We surmised that the many Christians in this country are now afraid to step out and say- hello??? for fear of backlash from their own community of believers- whether in the church or elsewhere. This was enlightening to him (my co-worker) as perhaps a reason for this current runaway mentality of "you are either republican and christian or democrat and non-believer. I admitted to him there are times when I feel the country is losing all foundation and connection with God- and that it scares me, not just because of historical perspective, but simply because "Thou shall not kill" is still relevant today. Further that I often feel persecuted as a Christian or discriminated against as opposed to say the Jewish faith or Muslims, etc., because of all the restrictions in the workplace against references to God, Christ, Christianity, etc. I have always believed that our country would eventually deteriorate into some melting pot of agnostic law one day- it's just happening a lot faster than I thought. Rome fell without any moral foundation, so can we. I'm not sure if religious offenses can be worked out in the state courts or not. I would have hoped in community by community- where people are given a chance to learn and grow in a society- and maybe find out in due time- the Truth that Christianity offers. And consequently that Christian love is to accept others, regardless of their belief. After all, Jesus did. But when our leaders embrace radical and offensive legislation to thwart opposing religious or moral views, or make statements that can polarize an entire nation-... well, there is no time for learning and growing. It's all about who's side your on now.

When you look at what Jesus did, who he hung out with, ministered to, etc., you begin to get a clearer picture of how he wants us to live as Christians. We need to keep humbling ourselves as Christians, being the example- not the activist crusaders. It's my opinion that the Holy Spirit changes hearts- and it's not within our power- only His.

The neo-conservative political happenings of today are definitely a threat to Christians and our effectiveness at witnessing, and helping win souls to Christ. I hope it all ends with the next Presidential election.

6/13/2005 12:46 AM  
Blogger donna said...

I got your url from the moveon.org site. Thanks, btw. I happen to be a registered democrat who did not support the dems, most recently. Reason being that those on the left seemed to be making personal attacks on Christians. And of course, the personal attacks continue. This does not get anything done! There needs to be a real focus for all dems to look to the future. Solve the problems that can be solved now. Solutions, not bashing of anyone. A real democracy is about action and empowerment of everyone, not just the chosen few. Repub. have done a good job of staying on message (even if you don't agree). What is the message for dems other than keep complaining. I want to support those who are in favor of restoring the moral fiber of our country (ie:prayers in school), help the needy (or needless circumstances, rather) and do it in a respectful manner. I think it is time for a conservative liberal.
Thanks again!

7/05/2005 8:37 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Donna -

You and I are in the same boat, paddling in different directions. I recognized the problems of the secularists vs the progressive Christians in the Democratic Party and am attempting to pull the two sides together. My perception is that the conservative Christians of the right have so polluted the minds of the secularists against Christianity that they can see little but the hypocrisy of that sides actions vs their words. We need some common ground on which to work within the Democratic Party to stop the very well orchestrated takeover of Christianity by the right.

I think you are correct in wanting a conservative liberal - what an interesting concept! Probably a better position/title would be moderate progressive. The party may well go the other way, being more "Democrat" rather than trying to be more moderate. I hope not. I can tell you that my site and many others are getting the attention of policy makers in the party and they are still trying to figure out the next platform. I watched Howard Dean on c-span the other night, from a fundraiser in Maryland, and he quoted the Bible nicely. They are trying.

The GOP is amazingly good at staying on message, repeating the same perfectly framed concepts ad infinitum, and swaying the religious masses well by so doing. But their actions are abhorant by and large. Look at the actions, not the words, please.

Well forth reading is Jim Wallis' book "God's Politics. What the Right Gets Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get." It states the case very well against both parties. I choose to try to work with the Dems as I think them more likely to open their thinking than the GOP to walk away from their actions.

7/05/2005 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering me so quickly(it's donna, for some reason I can't log back in!...very inciteful. Don't get me wrong, I'm not 100% for the Rebs. but being a NY'er and having gone through the aftermath of the attacks, I fully supported wiping out terrorism. At the time, my uncle, who is a detective with the NYPD told me of things that most aren't aware of, believe me the threat is very real, even still. Conversely, my other uncle is a democratic politician. We were all between a rock and a hard place, so to speak and the Dems had no accurate response. Therein lies my problem. I watched them both struggle, at different levels to right a wrong. But I believe in positive reform and moving on to tackle national issues that are a bigger threat to us, such as health care reform, affordable housing, and solving once and for all, homelessness. Altruistic at best, worth a shot, at worst. For me, I DO belive that the dems are the best to do something but I am also sick of placated poltics. I believe in saying what you mean and menaing what you say. Even if the truth hurts sometimes.
Thanks for hearing me out!

7/05/2005 3:15 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Donna -

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be in the city on 9/11. Way beyond an earthquake out here for the way it pulls a neighborhood and a city together. I watched the second plane crash live on TV and was stunned by the realization that we were under attack. As the morning unfolded it just got worse and worse.

I too know folks that work to secure our country; they don't speak much about particulars, but I know they are working long hours and sometimes look more worried than others. Our country isn't secure yet, but it's getting safer I think.

None of us will ever know what different course of action may have been taken by Al Gore had he gotten the presidency. I tend to think that our military and other security forces along with the intelligence community would have gotten something going anyway, possibly Afghanistan but probably not Iraq. Iraq was on the table long before 9/11.

I truly believe that whether we have the GOP or the Dems in control, our country will continue to grow safer. I also think that with the Dems in control

1. Our civil liberties won't take such a beating, i.e., the Patriot Act would contain some allowance for privacy.

2. Our tax dollars will be better spent and our debt will be lower due to less war and less borrowing to finance war and rich peoples' tax breaks.

3. Our country will be safer because less money will be spent overseas and more spent here to protect it.

4. More good will be done here and abroad.

I go further than you and say that the Dems are in disarray, but that may be their coming strength. I truly sense a second wind coming, and a change coming, I think for the better. They are down, certainly, but don't count them out. Please, work with and for the party. Get active locally and express your frustrations clearly. Be heard. Offer constructive solutions. Work to make one party or the other better. And I say that's the Dems for you, as they are for me, because that is where the heart is.

Don't give up. Gather together and win. You know what the GOP will give us if they maintain control, and it sure isn't what you want nor I.

7/06/2005 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(It's Donna again) The one thing that I learned about 9/11 is that fear inspires people. It inspires the ordinary person to think about things that are uncomfortable. During those first few days, many of us thought that this was the end. Mostly though, as we came out of it, we realized that there is so much more we can do to make our lives more normal and turn away from the threats as not to ignore but in the hopes that one day these threats will be eradicated. And our nation can make a differnce. Looking inward, to our country, these are the issues of most concern to me:
1. Health Care reform-no one seems to follow through nor even talk about this.
2. Mental health-taking care of those who eventually fall prey to this and end up homeless. We spend thousands just putting band aids on this situation.
3. Affordable housing-we are fast becoming the land of the rich and poor.
4. harsher punishment for sex offenders-they are not rehabilitated and should be treated like murderers.
5. taking care of the ederly-every other country takes pride in their knowledge, we abandon.

These are just a few. Walk a mile in the NY'ers shoes who were here on that terrible day and stop the infighting-it's what the terrorists wanted, to tear us apart, one by one. Furthermore, we need to reach out as a nation and help educate these types of people. SOme are beyond hope as they were schooled as young children to hate us. Think about it, it is why all these guys are young men now. Ignorance kills.
We cannot turn our backs on important national issues because politicians are infighting to be right. We have to stay strong and united so we can help correct the wrongs.

7/07/2005 5:09 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Donna -
Sad to say, but it will be a long time before the threats are eradicated, probably not in our lifetimes. Al Qaeda is the main group to chase, but if not them, another will come along. Times have changed dramatically and the world (or at least America and as of today, England) is not the place it once was.

America as a whole, Republicans and Democrats, independants and non-voters alike, want a peaceful existance but know that it likely comes at the expense of continued search and destroy missions with covert operations and intelligence gathering as the new norm. If we don't fight, we lose. If we fight a normal war, we lose.

I believe that there are a great many Iraqis that are glad we are there, perhaps the majority. I also believe that their will always be insurgencies there, that we perpetuate the problem by being there, and if not there, attacks will continue wherever they can make them happen, which is most places. A sad realization, I know, but probably true.

I think our country is both safer than we are lead to believe and still at great risk. No matter how good our defense here, they only need one success to claim success. If we bat .999 and they bat .001, we lose again.

The point is that no matter who is in charge of our government, we will continue to fight those that are against us, Al Qaeda or whomever, wherever, however. It isn't necessary to give up so much of our hopes for this country and this world to feel safe.

Dream the big dream, hope the greatest hope. Pray about it daily. Act towards it at every opportunity. Know that each of us does still make a difference, and with a bit more work from each of us, our personal difference can have greater effect.

Is there a chance for real peace among all people of this planet? As much as I would hope and pray for that (and I do) I leave that to God to make happen. As long as he gives each of us free will, and there are many with free will and strong desire to attack us (the "infidels") then we will have to fight back. Fighting back sometimes means attacking rather than defending. It is a matter of planning an attack that has the desired effect, however, of taking out those that need to be taken out without harming those that don't.

Forgive me, Father in Heaven, for I do not see how turning the other cheek works in this situation.

Peace to you. And all that are willing to give to get it.

7/07/2005 8:45 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Thanks for this blog. I enjoy it and agree with what I see. I'm a Christian humanist, and have begun recently identifying with what I call Christian Democratic values. I operate a blog at mymountain.blogspot.com that echos my views. I'll check back regularly.
Cheers,

1/02/2006 2:46 PM  

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