By Joel Hess –
Do what I say, not what I do.
Once again, a pastor has been caught living a double life. Once again the enemies of peace, love, forgiveness, and life use this hypocrisy as fodder to accuse Christianity of being an oppressive fable. There is, after all, nothing more oppressive than forgiveness and generosity.
Also, everyone enjoyed watching the Duggar family fail as it was revealed this past week that one of their sons was investigated for sexually molesting his sisters. On a side note, who didn’t think that out of 19 kids at least one of them would severely mess up? That’s just math.
Christians should never be caught up with the surprise and hysteria surrounding the public failings of Christian leaders. We should be the least surprised. We are well aware of the power of sin and Satan in our own lives, let alone others. Our hope has never been in our lives, but in the life lived by Jesus and given on our behalf for our salvation. We are all hypocrites no matter how hard we try not to be. We fall.
But that doesn’t mean we should not try!
America loves to discover hypocrisy. It is satisfying, I suppose. Misery loves company. Since our early teen years, we joyfully begin to employ the whole hypocrisy trap when combating our parent’s lectures. “Well you did it when you were my age!” I have even counseled parents who decided not to parent because “Hey, who am I to tell someone right and wrong?” Uh, I don’t know, a parent?
So our teenager self-concludes the same about a pastor or public Christian caught doing something he or she preached against. His deed invalidates his creed! Right?
However, this argument obviously falls apart. What if a pastor preached against murder, then it was discovered he had murdered someone? Does that break down his argument against murder? Should he have not advised against it? Of course not. I’m sorry, I’m using logic, which is no longer allowed in a nation that argues with feelings.
America pretends to hate ideals or virtue, let alone anyone who thinks they are “better than others”. God forbid anyone aspires to be better. God forbid anyone try. We despise people who try. This sort of cynicism has invaded Christianity. We Lutherans often mistake our reliance on grace and not works as a sort of fatalism that causes us to be leery of anyone who aspires to do good. We love to find holes in stories, skeletons in closets, sins in sanctuaries. You see, most in this country are not for equality. They are for mediocrity.
We have accomplished and are accomplishing an unforced communism! Communism by way of populism: popocommunism.
“Let’s be real” is the constant protest to anyone who suggests an ideal behavior or society. We saw that in the evolution of our T.V shows. We are repeatedly warned that “Leave it to Beaver” was an unachievable fantasy like all the other 50’s shows. Therefore in the 1970’s, dramas and comedies attempted to portray life as it really is: displaying families with divorce, single parenthood, promiscuity, etc. in the name of “being real”. Yet this is impossible. The moment you stuff “reality” in a box, a frame, a T.V., it becomes something else. This is fine, but just admit it! In fact, the most unreal television is “reality T.V”! We should not be surprised when our reality T.V. stars turn out to be something they are not.
I don’t want to be “real”. I don’t want to settle for “who I am” or “the way the world is”. Praise God that I don’t need to. For the ideal has been given to me in Jesus Christ. He is, in fact, the ideal! He is perfection in word and deed! I am that, too – by faith! I will see the ideal me one day when He is revealed and so His people!
Until then, I try. I aspire to be better than I am. Not because I have to, but because I want to! But if I fail, don’t worry. I’m not the Savior! And don’t listen to me, I’m a hypocrite. Listen to my Savior. He does what He says!