We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When I was young I spent a lot of social time with a group of Christians. I was a rowdy pup—very physical. A guy came into a house where we were meeting. I knew him fairly well. I thought he had some crazy ideas about the Bible and I didn’t respect his thinking on a lot of subjects. He was a big guy. Fit. He comes in the door and I popped him in the chest with my fist like a fool. It wasn’t to hurt him. It was intended to be playful, but I hit him hard My Kung Fu was pretty good back in the day and it must have put a serious hurt on him. He recoiled. His face tightened into a knot and his head dropped to his chest. Realizing what I had done I apologized twice blurting out my regret in one breath, and then I watched him heading out of the house. Before he slammed the door and stormed away he heard me clearly say, “I need you to hear me. I was a fool for hitting you. I am asking for your forgiveness”. And he was gone.
I know if he had turned around in that doorway to have a go at me before he left I would have had it coming. If I had just stood there and let him smack me he still would have had the right to be angry. The next day the guy calls me on the phone and do you know what he did? He asked for my forgiveness for his anger. He regretted not having forgiven me when I asked for grace. I don’t remember where we differed on issues but I remember how he lived out his faith that day.
George and Francis were onto something in my book.
Christians more than most other religious are more open to the charge of hypocrisy, cause the teachings are elevated, and the going is tough. The gap between word and deed yawns. A good rule is, keep your mouth shut, and do the best you can.
Christians are often open to the charge of hypocrisy because many have turned evangelism into a sport of condemnation while driving around with bumper stickers on their cars that say, “Christians aren’t perfect, they’re forgiven”; or because the only high profile Christian—the one non-=Christians most often recognize—is the one on TV asking for money while dressed in a thousand dollar suit.
At its core, the Christian message of divine forgiveness is simple, but it seems almost as hard for people to humbly acknowledge their errors, as it is hard to strain gnats and bathe ritualistically. It’s easy to say ‘I’m forgiven’, but it’s a discipline to say I have sinned (in this specific way) and I need your forgiveness. It requires humility. In the story I told earlier in this thread, I was spurred on by embarrassment, but my friend swallowed his pride with his anger. He took the core message of the gospels seriously.
As for remaining quiet, it’s not really an option for a Christian who takes the bible seriously. As much as ‘taking the timber from your own eye before you flick the dust from someone else’s’ is a mandate, so is preaching the gospel in season and out. Basically, the Christian is to live the Christian life both inwardly and outwardly, not only between himself and God, but also between himself and the people around him.
I would like to offer this caveat; I’m about as Christian as chicken soup is a chicken. I do not believe, as I do not disbelieve. I dwell in grace as a haven, from which I may investigate this faith—this life—without fear of condemnation. I have a hard enough time meeting human standards, never mind God’s, which is why I stare in wide eyed wonder at the Christian faith. Simul justus et peccator.
We do not know how we are going to react to what is put in front of us: too often it is negatively; especially when there is no distance between us and the other person. It is only after we are exposed to our own reactions, which may be humanly healthy, that we know the depths of our need and corruption. Then we are able to turn to Christ.
Yet this does not mean the other will change; nor does it mean that the situation is resolved: the initial response may still be the healthy one. We are given peace and endurance in the face of the other's grinding behavior.