Hypocrisy? Oh, you must be a Christian!

Mary and Sheldon

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…

– 2 Corinthians 5:20

I’m a fan of The Big Bang Theory. It’s bright, breezy, geeky goodness all rolled into one. However, there’s one character whose one-liners occasionally make me wince: Mary Cooper, Sheldon’s fundamentalist Christian mother.

Sheldon is a scientist with genius IQ who has a rational, logical approach to the workings of the universe. His mother, in contrast, is portrayed as a devout, legalistic born-again Christian. While displaying kind and caring tendencies, she frequently comes out with racist and politically incorrect comments for the sake of laughs and sadly, this is just another growing example of how Christians are stereotyped by the media.

However, a Season 7 episode REALLY made me go ouch!. Following a scene where Sheldon catches his single mother having ‘coitus’ with a man, he grudgingly attempts to make peace with it:

Sheldon: I’ll condemn you internally while maintaining an outward appearance of acceptance.

Sheldon’s mother: That is very Christian of you.

Cue laughter. Wince.

But you know, it’s an accurate observation of the cloaked hypocrisy that runs rife in Christian circles. Can we all think of occasions when we outwardly smiled while inwardly condemned?

Hypocrisy is a game of two halves. Half of our time is spent lamenting our imperfections and the other half is spent trying to hide them. (Click to tweet)

Of course all of us – Christian or not – are contrary and judgemental beings. The difference is that non-Christians, as Sheldon plainly pointed out to his mother, expect Christians to follow and uphold the Biblical principles that they proclaim to follow.

Sheldon: I think what upsets me most about it, Mother, is the hypocrisy.

Wonderfully, the writers at The Big Bang Theory included a heartfelt and honest admission from Sheldon’s mother:

Sheldon: Doesn’t this contradict all the religious rules you’ve been espousing your whole life?

Sheldon’s mother: You’re right, it does. And it’s something I’m struggling with these days.

Sheldon: Then why are you doing it?

Sheldon’s mother: Because I’m not perfect, Shelly. And that man’s booty… is.

Christians are far from perfect, yet sometimes we have a problem admitting this. In our drive to appear righteous, we can easily become Mary Coopers.

Yet once Sheldon’s mother opened up her heart, she showed how deeply torn she really is. The world sees Christians as Bible-thumping, self-righteous believers, but the truth is we struggle too. To pretend to be better than we really are fools no one, let alone God.

Do you ever stop to look for traces of hypocrisy in your life of faith? I think I need to take some time to check out the plank in my own eye.

Jonah-style

Every so often, when things seem to be trundling along, God will go Blam! and He’ll pull me right out of my comfort zone. Know what I mean?

I often find myself running from scary things, Jonah-style. Why would I willingly go into the flame and set myself up for pain? It’s easier to run and hope it doesn’t catch up with me but it always does. Always.

It’s scary being vulnerable. To face the things that I know will hurt me. To have those difficult conversations and sit with awkward feelings.

But God, in His loving wisdom, never fails to steer me back with a good old-fashioned spiritual shake. He brings adversity into my life at just the right moments to break my cycle of pride and self-reliance.

I’ve a lot to learn about leaning into my faith.

Do you run for the hills too? If so, how does God steer you back to where you should be?

 

 

Why do you believe?

A longtime friend came to visit and what a joy it was to sit with them, to listen to their stories of encouragement and hear about all the blessings that God has brought to them in a myriad of ways.

Not that everything was rosy in their life. Far from it. They have problems at work, conflicts with others and they’re currently mourning the death of a beloved family member. In anyone else’s hands, these issues would be enough to bring them to their knees in defeat. But instead, this dear friend is on their knees in gratitude for all that they have.

Their visit prompted me to consider why I believe, why they believe and why so many people believe in God when life, at times, feels so heartbreaking. Questions are asked and answers are left wanting. We crave certainty, yet experience teaches us that precious little in life can be relied upon.

So why do I believe? For me, it’s a continual exercise. When life is going great and everything falls into place, it’s easier to believe in a loving and merciful God. When I feel like I’m trapped in a deep dark cave, I tend to believe in myself rather than God. It never fails to pull me down further.

Which is precisely why I need to acknowledge my weaknesses, to admit my struggles. I am not a super-Christian or a spiritual giant, an expert in my field or employee of the month. I’m merely a somebody on a lifelong journey to know God more and more. At times I may stumble and fall, other times I might run and even sprint. But one thing that never changes is God’s constant faith in me, which He continues to reveal every day through people and through ever-changing circumstance.

We humans are born with a sense of entitlement – we talk about our rights and our inner worth, yet all we’ve done to deserve these rights is be born, which really doesn’t require much skill on our part. My dear friend reminds me through their open practice of gratitude that God provides us with more than we deserve and more than we can ever comprehend. (Click to tweet)

My strength, my ability, my intellect, my body – I have created none of it, yet each of these gifts equip me with the opportunity to create, to build, to fix, to heal, to love, to connect… in short, to live.

God isn’t for me, like a tool or an appliance or a magic genie but instead, God is for me – rooting for me, accepting me and loving me despite my mistakes and wavering loyalty.

For that I am eternally grateful. And that’s why I believe.

What’s your reason to believe?

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