NomDebPlume's 2½ Cents

Because I have an opinion about everything…

Careless Preachers

“Do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” —Matthew 23:3

Some opponents of Christianity may not be so much against Christ as they are against the hypocrisy of His followers. Ironically, it hasn’t occurred to them that no one was more opposed to hypocrisy than Jesus Himself.

We’ve all met scoffers who thoughtlessly parrot the phrase, “The church is full of hypocrites!” But let’s not be thoughtless in our response and dismiss such pronouncements without taking heed lest they be true.

We tend to think that it’s not true of us. But let’s think again. Have we ever been like the Christian who glanced through her window, only to see a nosy, noisy neighbor approaching her door? Her young, impressionable children heard her as she growled, “Oh, no—not her again!” Whereupon she opened the door and gushed insincerely, “How very nice to see you!”

Our lips and our lives often preach a mixed message. In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus described the hypocritical teachers of the law and warned His disciples, “Do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (v.3).

God forbid that some opponent of Christ would be influenced by careless hypocrisy in our lives.

Lord, help us to be “careful preachers.” —Joanie Yoder

You can fool the hapless public,
You can be a subtle fraud,
You can hide your little meanness,
But you can’t fool God.  —Kleiser

A hypocrite will often pray on his knees on Sunday and prey on his neighbors on Monday.

From “Our Daily Bread”, October 14, 2006
Suggested Reading: Matthew 23:1-12

DkBlueBar 

Why did I include this preachy post today?  Because hypocrites, ESPECIALLY in the church, make me crazy.  This is not to say that I have not been guilty of the example given above: “Oh, how nice to see you,” when really, it was not at all nice to see my noisy, annoying neighbor (that’s a tough one) – but on a grander scale, what in the world are Christians thinking when they show up for church every Sunday and forget there are 6 other days in the week?? 

I’m no authority on the subject, my faith is a simple one.  I consider Christianity to be a full-time endeavor.  I don’t take a “holiday” when I see someone drop a $20.00 bill, for instance… :-/ 

Let me relate an interesting little story (which I hope to state briefly :-).  I was recently hired to help a friend collect a [relatively] large outstanding debt owed to her business.  She gave me some background on the gentleman I would be calling: “He is a nice family man, a Christian guy… he even has scripture verses on his business cards” (which is why she was especially surprised he “stiffed” her).  After numerous ignored invoices, emails, and phonecalls that were not even answered, I called and spoke politely to the man, even commiserating with him and his predicament.  Despite this, he was unbelievably rude and nasty to me, making a point of getting my name and other pertinent information, which he then used to send a cease and desist letter.  (Cease and desist after one phonecall?  He’s the one who won’t pay… :-/)

Anyway, the point of my story is this guy had no idea who I was or that I knew he was a Christian because he saw me only as a hired independent contractor, not also a friend of the business owner to whom he owes money.  SHE knows his public persona, but he didn’t think that *I* did.  So he decided to “take a holiday”.  That bothered me more than his threatening tone.

I know Christians aren’t perfect and have even been told not to hold them (the ones that irritate me) to a higher standard, but why shouldn’t I?  Aren’t we always expecting everyone else to raise their standards?  It’s time for hypocrisy to take a holiday – if Christians want to be taken seriously.

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11 thoughts on “Careless Preachers

  1. This is so true, Deb; and, I’m reminded of Christ’s words regarding such “Christian” behaviour, “You flatter me with your lips but your heart is far from me.” These are not known by His Father, therefore not known by Jesus; thus, utter destruction is their end, unless they repent and “go and sin no more.”

    We are instructed to judge the church, but not outside the church. Also, we are instructed to warn those brethren who are conducting themselves in sin of any kind. As the Word goes on to say, if we do not warn them of their sin, then their blood is on our hands; but, if we warn them and they do not repent, then their blood is on their own hands. I’d rather warn than have anyone’s blood on my hands.

    Thank you for this great post and, when you have time, do pay a visit to me. :)

    Love in Christ,
    http://bonnieq.wordpress.com
    Truth Seekers and Speakers, link in blogroll
    Unicorn Haven, link in blogroll

  2. Bonnie,

    Thanks so much for your visit and your comments. I, too, would rather warn than have blood on my hands… but more than that, I feel I’ve been given such a Wonderful Gift, so wonderful that it would be selfish to keep it to myself. Often it is difficult to know how exactly to share my faith without others finding it offensive, though. It seems society as a whole have labeled all Christians as hypocrites and would like us to just leave them alone. Sad…

    Visited your site and liked it very much, thank you… :-)

    ~Debi

  3. Debi,
    It’s so interesting that you posted this today. I am in a bit of an argument with my sister who has gone the ‘all Christians are hypocrites’ route. It really bothered me and her email is still sitting in my box for me to answer. I don’t know if I will answer it or let it go but you’ve given me a lot to think about.
    WC

  4. A –

    Everything for a reason, I think. It’s really hard to get away from, or “combat”, the hypocrite argument. I, too, have a sister who uses it as a vigorous defense for staying as far away from the Faith as possible. Sometimes I think it is just an argument of convenience, though.

    My “tactic” (for lack of a better term) is to try not to get caught up in the minutia of arguing the points people try to use to trip me up. Sometimes I think it is more a game to them than anything else. I “try” to walk the talk instead. It’s an awesome responsibility, and, in the case of my sister, one slip-up, and she’s there to advertise it to the world, but overall, I believe we can encompass a theme.

    I’ll pray for you, for guidance in this… and for that whole spaghetti thing… :-) :-)

    ~ D

  5. Thanks. And the spaghetti is important, so thanks for including that too.
    WC

  6. Oh, the spaghetti is very important! I should know, I’m Italian… :-)

  7. Great post! It makes me sad whenever I hear someone voice the same old line, “The church is full of hypocrites.” because I know they’re RIGHT.

    I’m currently reading “Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement” by Lauren Sandler. The author isn’t a Christian, but she spent months going to different “Christian” events (churches, Bible studies, youth groups, concerts, etc.) as part of her reseach for the book. It’s interesting, but also sad hearing what she’s since concluded after spending so much time among Christians.

    She was in settings where she was willing to build relationships with people, willing to listen and to ask questions, but as she got closer to people she was able to see how they truly were, and sadly, came to the conclusion that Christians are exactly like the rest of the world; they can be just as disrespecful, loud, annoying and materialistic as anyone else. The only thing that is different about the Christians is the way they vote. In other words, she thinks it’s just another policical group, and nothing more.

    Because the “Christians” she met weren’t truly “walking the walk” as the saying goes, building relationships with some of them was part of what seems to have turned her off from Christianity. If people had been living their faith, and it had been something real, who knows how it could have turned out differently. Just in how they conducted themselves they were a witness (good, bad, or ugly) for Christ, and they weren’t a witness to be proud of. It’s very sad, because that’s just one person’s story; there are too many others who have went through the same thing.

    Your post was interesting; I’m glad you took the time to post it. :)

    -Kelsey

  8. Hi, Kelsey…

    Thanks for stopping by and for your interesting comments. The book you’re reading sounds fascinating – I might have to find a copy for myself. One can only hope that seeds have been planted in Lauren Sandler’s heart during her journey, and the Holy Spirit is not finished with her yet.

    I think you were quite accurate in using the word “sad” to describe this whole issue. I can’t understand why Christians don’t see how they are perceived by the very people they claim to want to reach. They actually ARE reaching them, but are pushing them away. At the same time, I don’t mean to put myself on a pedestal and suggest that I am somehow a cut above everyone else, but noticing the problem and working to avoid it is a good first step… to me, anyway.

    Interestingly… and sadly… there was that incident with Rev. Ted Haggard today to bring it all to the foreground again. All the news channels are chanting the same thing about Christians, “Those hypocrites”. Thank God WE know there is forgiveness for all the times we mess up.

    God bless,

    Debi

  9. Debi,

    I haven’t finished it yet, but so far, the book is very interesting. Yes, I hope there were seeds planted in Lauren Sandler’s heart, too. Her book is written as a warning to others, but it seems like it’s the Christians who ought to be reading it, so that they can see there is a problem. Only, I don’t think many people would be able to learn anything from it, because they wouldn’t be willing to say there’s a problem with the church.

    One thing that’s interesting in the book, is that some of the modern “terns” in Christianity (materialism among other things) that author thinks is a threat to the world as she knows it, but I think it’s some of those very things that could be the very undoing of true Christianity. I felt like telling her that I didn’t think she has anything to worry about, which is very sad.

    Yes, I think you’re right, recognizing the problem and working to avoid it is a good first step.

    You spell your name the same way as my mom (she’s “Life: The Journey,” which is on your blog roll). Not many people spell it without an “e.” It looks best the way you both spell it. :)

    -Kelsey

  10. Oh, I definitely agree, Kelsey… this sounds exactly like the type of book that Christians should be reading. It should be one of the books you see on that table when you enter a Christian bookstore… :-/ Maybe then Christians would take it more seriously. And you never know about the author – Remember, Lee Strobel was trying to prove there was NO God when he made his “Case For Christ”… :-)

    I wasn’t able to grasp your point about materialism (maybe I’m tired), or I would have commented… instead, I’ll tell you how I arrived at the spelling of my name (so shallow :-):

    Changed it to “Debbi” at age 17, then had about 500 checks mis-printed with the second “b” missing a few years later. It was so much easier to write, and I didn’t want to wait for more checks, so I just kept it that way… :-)
    (not ready to reveal what adolescent reason made me originallychange the spelling ;-)

    ~ D

  11. It might have been that you were tired, but I think it’s more likely because I was trying to take a rather larg thought and make it into a comment. I posted something called “A Few Thoughts on Worship,” which my or may not shed some light on my last comment. It was sort of a random thought though, so it doesn’t really matter.

    That’s funny about the checks being printed wrong, and you just changing your name rather than changing the checks. :)

    I spelled my name with an “I” (Kelsi) for about a month back in high school. I’d went on a mission trip and the people had a hard time reading my name, but it made more sense to them with the “I.” I thought about just keeping it that way, but I decicedd I like writing “Y’s” too much to change the way I spelled my name. :)

    -Kelsey

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