People become mortified whenever they hear of a prominent or even not so prominent Christian doing something they think is wrong. Mark Sanford, S.C. governor admitted to cheating on his wife Jennie, who later revealed he refused to take the vow of fidelity during their marriage ceremony. Jim Bakker, former TV evangelist and host of the “700 club” was convicted of fraud and imprisoned. The FBI raided Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and its leader was convicted this past November on a variety of charges including trafficking minors across the state for the purpose of exploitation. Ted Haggard,then president of of the National Association of Evangelicals(NAE) resigned from his position as pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2006 admitting he had relationships with a male prostitute. Leaders of all denominations of Christian churches have been rocked with scandals from child abuse, to flagrant sexual affairs.While power can be an addictive motivator to stray from appropriate behavior whether in religion or in politics, these are not necessarily the acts that make one question what Christians are all about
A recent study indicated that 75% of the population identifies itself as Christian and a full 9 out of 10 individuals say they believe in God but fewer people identify faith as a priority now than even four years ago. Less than 1 out of 5 born again Christians identify with a Christian world view, fewer are reading the Bible and divorce rates are significantly higher among Christians than atheists or agnostics.
My husband’s astute observance that people walk into our church service but race out of it makes me realize it is the little things that are more apparent to non Christians making Christianity a confusing compilation of distinct opposites. The father who attends church weekly with his family but cheats on his taxes. The mother who leads a bible study but who is verbally abusive to her teenager. The individual who volunteers for every community fund drive but who is irresponsible about duties at home. The wholesome youths who lead vacation bible camp but who have indulged in premarital sex since they first met. Christianity is uncanny at times and sometimes downright insincere.
I am as guilty. Am I a good Christian when I make a promise that I will have time for something and then forget my commitment or when I make up an excuse for not being available? Do I appear to be the kind of Christian I want someone to think I am when I have deliberately indulged in gossip or refused to not take part in back stabbing? What does my own appearance look like when I am short with my husband or colleagues or intolerant of another’s opinion? What Christian values do I represent when I am jealous of another’s success or possessions? Do I wear my Christianity like make up only putting it on when I want to conceal my flaws from others or want to look nice? Yes, I can walk, talk and look like a Christian too but sometimes I am not what I say I am.
Christians make mistakes and poor choices just like everyone else. We sometimes watch movies that we know are in poor taste or contain values we don’t ascribe to. We sometimes tell white and sometimes even darker lies. We We sometimes spend more than we should on something we don’t need just because we can and we want it. We don’t always let the other driver in.We sometimes neglect those we know we should and could help in favor of what we sometimes would rather do. We sometimes seek revenge when we have been hurt. We justify our behavior and validate our reasons…sometimes. Christians sometimes act in ways that don’t demonstrate what we believe.
Are there no truly exemplary Christians out there? Is the world being deceived by half- hearted Jesus lovers who say they will pray for you but just might not remember why or how? No, I don’t think that. I think that what marks a Christian as a Christian is the ability to say they are sorry, and seek forgiveness and try again to be a person of value. Yes, there are a lot of Christians who look, walk and talk convincingly but who act, well, who sometimes act anything but Christian. It is that imperfection that often allows Christians to identify with someone struggling to get beyond a behavior they want to abandon.
Christianity is not perfect but Christ is and so we falter, regret, disappoint an sometimes disillusion those who would not call us Christians but we remember the admonishment,
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-3
What would someone say you looked walked or acted like today?
Is there a double standard for Christianity and how or why is it so?
What standards must we as Christians uphold in our country if we are to make any difference?