Wednesday, June 4, 2008

*Recognizing Our Hypocrisy (from "unChristian")

When I went on a missions trip to Russia many years ago, many people from our team were invited to the home of a schoolteacher for dinner. We took our interpreter and went to dinner, hoping to deliver the Gospel message. As I read this chapter, I kept recalling what the teacher and her mother kept saying about why they could not be born of the Spirit: they said that they could not become good enough and live righteously enough to be worthy of the status.
My heart of compassion swelled and the interpreter (who was born again) smiled wide at me when I chimed in and offered the characters in the Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevski as examples to explain why the main purpose of making Jesus both Savior and Lord (was not) about living free of sin but about knowing His love for us through forgiveness when we do sin. None of us is righteous, neither can we ever be righteous enough to warrant salvation based on our works. Both ladies prayed to receive Jesus that night. Though we aspire to live free of sin because we love our Savior who first loved us, for me, the wonderful thing that comes through salvation is a realizing that I am imperfect and forgiven. Holiness comes, but it comes through forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God through the Blood of the Lamb.

Kinnaman and Lyons state that they believe that as Christians, we created the perception of hypocrisy outside of Christianity because our own priorities about Christian living center around "being good." Not only do we esteem "being good" as far more significant of every other element of the Christian life, we also broadcast this to others while showing no significant lifestyle differences. In the author's findings, the only significant factors that set Christians apart from non-Christians were church attendance and agreement that a particular foul expletive should not appear on television. The honest answers of the Christians surveyed indicated that they engaged in sinful behaviors at self-reported rates equal to those of non-believers. We have thus invited the criticism of hypocrisy ourselves. Thus, of the 84% of identified non-believers who knew a Christian personally, only 15% of them report significant lifestyle differences. The "unChristian" perceive us as hypocrites because few of us actually practice what we preach.
From pages 41 -45:

"Everyone in my church gave me advice about how to raise my son, but a lot of the time, they seemed to be reminding me that I have no husband – and besides, most of them were not following their own advice. It made it hard to care what they said. They were not practicing what they preached.” Victoria, 24

Jake, age thirty-two, one of the young outsiders we interviewed, made this comment: “My former pastor used to teach baptism by immersion, then he got a better job with the Presbyterians and now he teaches baptism can be done by sprinkling. What you believe depends on where the paycheck is coming from, I guess.”

...First notice that many of these outsiders were former insiders.
Young outsiders believe that rather than being able to help them sort through the image-is-everything world, followers of Christ are playing the very same mind games that they are. They perceive us as employing the same tactics as everyone else to preserve an appearance of strength.