Category Archives: Authenticity

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.

Selective hearing

that one criticism

Sometimes, we sail through all the wonderful compliments and affirmations we receive and instead, latch onto only the negative comments like we’re barnacles on the underside of a rusty old boat. Does this sound like you?

By accepting only the criticisms in our life, we distort the true picture of who we really are. We are both light and shade – deeply flawed yet mercifully gifted by our God to bless and uplift others in wonderful ways. (Click to tweet) God despises our sin, but He loves us. He urges us to learn from our mistakes but also to understand and embrace how loved we are, despite our brokenness.

When someone offers you feedback, practice the art of receiving it gracefully – both the good and the bad. You don’t have to agree with their assessment, but it could open your eyes to undiscovered nuances of the way you think, feel and act towards others.

If you struggle to accept praise for your hard work, or reject compliments on the gifts that God has given you, stop now and reflect on the self-portrait that hangs inside your head. Ask yourself if it’s a true likeness of who you really are.

 

 

Why I struggle with my church

by Rod Anderson, The Christian Post

I have a confession to make – I really struggle with my church.

I know we’re all broken people, I know we’re all trying to follow Christ and love each other and we’re going to make mistakes. Yes, I do know this.

But there are times when I get so tired of seeing the old patterns emerge again and again, and this is one of those times. It’s as if we’re stubbornly and pridefully refusing to learn from our mistakes.

(Click to tweet this verse)

I hear the same complaints over and over from one church member to another – hypocrisy, gossip, lack of communication, too quick to condemn, too slow to forgive or too self-important to listen.

Yes, I am part of this messy, flawed and vulnerable body. But while I’d love to talk about how we can move forward, there are many who would rather complain and do nothing, or stick their head in the sand and pretend we’re all right. There are those who prefer to skate precariously on the surface and hope that a smile and a Biblical verse will smooth everything over. And all the while, we continue to repeat the same old mistakes together.

I’m tired of hearing empty words about the things we should do as Christians. I’m tired of making the effort to listen and to apologise for my mistakes, of trying to get along peaceably with others, while others express little desire to offer grace to their brothers and sisters, or refuse to examine their own actions from time to time. I accept we all make mistakes, but what I can’t swallow is our reluctance to admit them and learn from them together.

And of course, in saying all this, I feel guilty. I feel as though I’m a traitor. But if we cannot openly share our need as a family for growth and self-reflection and affirmation and authenticity to one other with the humblest of servant-hearts, then what hope is there for us to thrive as a church and as a community in Christ?

The Barna Group polled a group of American people and asked them ‘what helps you grow in your faith’? Answers included prayer, reading the Bible, family and friends… but none of the top 10 answers featured the word ‘church’. How sad that Christians, myself included, may not feel that our church is a safe or key environment in which to be firmly rooted and growing in faith.

I’m sure this is a subject I’ll come back to time and again, but for now I choose to press on and remind myself that whatever discouragement I might feel at times, that God is bigger than me and bigger than the church.

Yes, my hope should never rest on others but always on the Lord Himself. (Click to tweet)

And how about you? How do you feel about your church?

 

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