I am about to write a post that is truthful, but will be abhorred by some Christians who read this blog; because there is an unspoken rule to not talk badly about other Christians, in case you taint everyone's perception of Christianity.
*I* believe that you taint Christianity when you don't tell it like it is, because no one can tell the difference between a genuine Christian and a faux one.
Please don't bother telling me that only God judges the heart. Sure in the Bible it says that God judges the heart. It doesn't say that we're not supposed to be wise, however. In fact, until the last 30 years or so, wisdom was prized in the churches. Now it is a rare, and somewhat despised, commodity. Why? Because it gets in the way of doing what you want to do without getting called on it. We'll also address the common misconception of judging shortly.
Before I go any further, let me discuss different types of Christians so that we're all on the same page. Please note: I am not faulting anyone for their beliefs. What I'm about to do is fault them for their hypocrisy. And this post is coming from a perspective of Christianity, so please don't argue about how an alternative religion is superior. If you'd like, just mention that you'd like a post dealing with your particular religion or lack of religion and we'll tackle that later.
Also, I know this post is long, but we have to agree on some common terms and concepts so that we're all on the same page. Pleeeeeease bear with me.
1) There's the "christian" that is closer to being an agnostic. For them, being "christian" merely means they're not muslim, buddhist, or anything "exotic". They have no real beliefs. As long as they are honest about that, fine with me. I'd recommend the more informed term "agnostic", however.
2) The Born-Again Christian. These are Christians that take their faith very seriously and because they try to adhere to everything in the Bible in order to please God, they are sometimes seen as the "goody two shoes" of the lot. However, I'd take a B.A. Christian over most others as an employee. But they're as rare as hen's teeth. There can be some B.A. Christians who adhere to almost everything in the Bible but choose to not go to church. I personally have no problem with that choice whatsoever because this is where *I* am. I tell people who ask that I've developed a psychological allergy to churches but I also have a ministry with others that have the same allergy. We grew up seeing way too much hypocrisy and divisiveness from...
3) The "Sunday" Christian, a.k.a the Faux Christian. These are the people who talk the talk but don't walk the walk. They may have bumper stickers that read "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" because this gives them an open license to behave badly but excuse it away. Come on! Do you think that Christianity would have survived all these years if Jesus's message had boiled down to "It's OK to be a jerk. Just tell everyone you're a forgiven jerk and forgeddaboutit."
I do think that the Bible was a mixed document. There are some universal truths that are a given, and there are some that were a cultural necessity for that time but not a universal truth.
For example, God may have told the Israelites to eat kosher to make it more difficult for them to mix with pagan cultures. Or, it may have been a bunch of wise dietary precautions that saved them from problems such as acute food poisoning or trichinosis. No one can be certain, but it was abandoned in the Christian New Testament, so apparently the need for it had gone. I'll grant you that it was dissolved by a pronouncement from God himself, but other practices have been abandoned as well, and he hasn't come down from on high to announce those.
And I don't expect other Christians to be perfect, because I'm surely not! But what I do expect is for them to do the right thing, and make amends when they don't.
I use the term 'Faux Christians' because like faux finishes and faux gems, they look pretty and sound great, but they're not the real thing: As I said, they talk the talk but don't walk the walk. When the least bit of pressure comes to bear, their faith is out the window, and they are out the door.
I once had the owner of a company say to me "I will never hire another Christian again, as long as I live." He knew I was a Christian, but he considered me to be the exception, not the rule. What a horrible shame.
Faux Christians are often the most verbal about their faith. They are full of "I'll pray for yous", "If God wills", and "God bless yous". They talk loudly about their need to have Sundays off. They tell everyone about their religious conversions or how God is active in their lives.
I have a very close friend (let's call him Pov) who is an agnostic. Every time Pov sees a Faux Christian, it's one more nail in the coffin. I keep telling him "Look, these are not the genuine article," but I'm getting tired of saying it.
Pov had a boss who was a very loud and dynamic Faux Christian. The guy sure talked the talk, but also believed firmly in screwing the customer and the competition and getting around the law whenever possible. Pov really idolized the guy: This was a very rich and successful man! I kept warning Pov that the guy was a Faux Christian and eventually he would turn on Pov, too. And he did. I was very glad I'd warned him about it, because it lessened the blow.
The reason that I'm writing this today: Recently, I hired someone (who was a Faux Christian) to be in charge of my team of people. Let's call her Jill. I began to get nervous when she started leaving them notes with "God bless yous". Why?
In the Bible Jesus says "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." Jesus is saying, shut your mouth and shut the door! But Faux Christians are for show only. They trumpet their godliness from the rooftops.
One day, Jill just didn't show up to work. I called and left her a couple messages. I stayed behind to help the team, and worked there all day (neglecting my primary business). I didn't reschedule anyone, because I was hoping that Jill had gone AWOL for a very good reason. It negatively impacted both of my businesses.
The next morning Jill didn't show again, and didn't return my call that morning, either. I worked with the team for half of that day. At this point, I had to assume she'd quit, and I made the appropriate arrangements. The team grumbled about "Christians" all day.
That night when I got home, I got an email from her, telling me that she'd quit but hadn't wanted to call to tell anyone. However, she was full of Faux Christian platitudes and hoped we'd remain friends. I wrote back that I was disappointed in her, and felt she had done the wrong thing. I also added that she could spare me the Faux Christian blatherings. She wrote back in anger, and here was my final reply:
" I'm not going to argue my Christianity," you said.
I didn't ask you to. I told you my impressions and I was (and am) sincere about it. This was a poor Christian testimony. Trying to hide behind your actions or trying to justify them by telling me that "Moreover, most people who judge Christians are just unhappy with themselves" is a cop-out.
I'm sorry if you're hearing what you need to hear for the first time. Perhaps if this is the way you behave, someone should have told you this before. I'm actually not in the least bit angry, as you say (perhaps you'd like it if I was? Would that make you feel better?) I'm merely very disappointed. Yes, Christians are people too, but it DOESN'T give us a license to behave as we'd like, or excuse it away. In fact, we are actually under MORE of an obligation to behave properly because we are walking, breathing testimonies.
The part that was wrong was not even picking up the phone to let us even know. When we first interviewed you, you told us you were straight-up and straightforward and yet you couldn't even give us the grown-up courtesy of a phone call. The business is wildly busy again, and on John's first day back he was juggling everything, and had to try to scramble to cover for YOU too. Of course it was EASIER for you not to call. But as a Christian, you do the RIGHT thing, not the easy one.
You're a Christian of convenience only. You need to re-examine your life. I still have not received your address to send you that check.
The next reply she sent contained her address only. She'd read the note, but couldn't reply to it.
I can hear other Faux Christians whine "You're judging her! Judge not lest you be judged!" Nice try. I recommend reading your scriptures, and get back to me on that. Try reading both Matthew 7:1 and 7:2: "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."
As one theologian writes, "This does not mean that one is never, in any sense or to any extent, to judge another, for v. 5 indicates that when one's own life is pure he should "take the speck out" of the brother's eye. It does mean, however, that a follower of Christ is not to be censorious." -Charles Ryrie.
Also, in other areas of the Bible, true Christians are commanded to sort out the false ones. Kinda hard to do, when you're not allowed to make any judgements!
If we don't sort out our own Faux Christians, who else will? We need to begin calling out people for their actions, if it reflects badly on us. Please don't bother saying that *I* am not perfect. Well, duh! as a young friend of mine would say. But as I said earlier, the difference is that when a true Christian messes up, she tries to make it right again.
I had just finished telling my staff that another Faux Christian wasn't the real deal (she had quit, threatening another one of my employees with bodily harm). She knew the Bible as well as a Buddhist would, and I wished she'd claimed to be any other religion. Now I have to do damage control once more.
P.S. I republished this blog, and lost some comments. My apologies.