Held to a Higher Standard

Criticizing, marginalizing, shaming, and otherwise denigrating Christians has become something of a national pastime. And we don’t just hear the negative talk from the unwashed. A lot of the critical words come from Christians themselves.

Are you surprised? We Christians can be hypocritical, judgmental, and holier-than-thou—sometimes all at once. And when we are, we embarrass ourselves, not to mention the God we claim to follow. So we call out the offenders, mostly in blogs or books, hoping they’ll straighten out and fly right.

You know who we’re talking about. We wrote about them in our book, I’m Fine With God…It’s Christians I Can’t Stand. Here are a few categories from our book, plus a bonus category:

  • Christians who impose their morality on others
  • Christians who think science is the enemy
  • Christians who use the Bible as a weapon
  • Christians who don’t practice what they preach
Bonus Category
  • Christians who support Donald Trump
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Chaucer and the Tale-Spin: Why His Satire Works Best

Geoffrey Chaucer, the guy who might have had Shakespeare’s reputation if Will hadn’t done his thing so brilliantly, wrote this little book you might have heard about. His magnum opus is, of course, The Canterbury Tales, and its prologue reads like 13th century reality television, a sort of Real World for Medieval England. Chaucer examines his own society in all its wacky diversity and throws twenty-seven characters together on a journey, many of them religious. They are, supposedly, going to pay homage to a slain archbishop, but it's just a set up. We're more interested in the bufoonery on display than the pilgrimage itself.

As I see it, Chaucer’s pilgrims are the perfect mirror of his society.  They are alternately perverse, holy, hypocritical, promiscuous, chaste, and hilarious. The Roman Catholic Church is the target of much of his fun, but he also takes a shot at gender roles, infidelity, body building, stupidity, and farting, among other targets. It’s a hoot, let me tell you.

In re-reading Chaucer, I am impressed by his wit. It can’t be missed. Had Chaucer’s Christian characters all been scoundrels, I would’ve dismissed him as a nasty critic, only eager to expose the religious misfits and hypocrites. But Chaucer’s genius is even better displayed in his evenhanded treatment of the world he observes. Consider this description of the humble Parson, a country pastor whose love of his congregation showcases the transformation of Christ in a perverse world:

He was a shepherd and not mercenary.

Are some sins worse than others???

There's a sort of "party line" when it comes to sin that says, "sin is sin. It doesn't matter what form it takes, it's rebellion, death, darkness." The party line will quote Galatians and note that if someones stumbles in one point of the law, their failure is total. They'll explain, as I did this past Sunday, that "you can be in a cathedral or a brothel and be in rebellion towards God" implying that all sin is the same.
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Is It Hypocritical to Love?

Some may question the concept of loving someone you resent. Isn’t that being hypocritical? You have negative feelings, but you are doing or saying something positive. When I hear that question, I am reminded of what the British scholar C. S. Lewis said:

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.

Your Feelings Aren’t Always Right

Love is sometimes the choice to go against your feelings. It’s similar to what I do every morning when I get up. I don’t know about you, but if I only got out of bed on the mornings I felt like getting out of bed, I’d pretty much never get up. Almost every morning, including this morning, I go against my feelings, get up, do something I think to be good, and before the day is over, I feel good about having done it. Love is not a feeling; it is a way of behaving. Feelings follow behavior; therefore, loving feelings follow loving behavior. Loving actions on my part not only bring me positive feelings about myself, but, if spoken in the love language of the other person, they will stimulate positive feelings inside them.

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A Well-Scrubbed Version of ME

In today’s world, technology offers us a unique view of one another. I’ve recently been wrestling with this. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I seek to live my life consistent with the beliefs that I hold from Scripture. There are times when I live incredibly empowered by God’s Spirit. There are times that I stumble and fail. I try to keep short accounts with my wife, short accounts with my brothers, and short accounts with Jesus.

None of this is really where the rub is, hopefully none of this should land as a surprise. Here’s where I’ve been wrestling lately. On my Blog, on my Facebook pages, in my messages, I’ve been offering the “well scrubbed version of me.” So, while I believe that today’s technology offers a clearer view of KNOWING one another from a distance than has ever been possible before, I also recognize the potential for hypocrisy that exists. That’s why I’m calling it out. And because confession is good for the soul.
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Bloggers in Hypocrisy

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