Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay tithes of mint, dill, and cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
~ Matthew 23:23
My daughter, at one time, worked in a very nice Hotel. After dealing with many different people she came to me one day and stated, “Our staff really dislikes hosting Church Women Retreats, because these ladies are the rudest people of all.” I also spoke to a stressed waiter in a restaurant once, who confided that the group of church ladies were giving him a very difficult time.
I also know a man, who would fight to the death, concerning his Biblical views, yet he shows no compassion on his own child. I also saw a documentary where the pastor from the pulpit was preaching hate, and a woman behind a picket line yelling remarks in the name of Christ. There have been many hate crimes committed in the name of Christianity. A past president once remarked, “Why do Christians hate so much?”
For professed Christians who are reading this, you may think, “Oh my goodness! That is terrible! I would never do that.” But you might want to rethink this. Sometimes we are passive participants.
I admit being guilty of this. I was raised in a legalistic church in the Midwest. There were many rules in place that kept a person’s focus on our conduct (a self-centered act) instead of on Christ, letting Him illuminate changes that need to be made by His righteousness. When I would see others breaking rules, I quietly thought in my mind some judgmental thought. Even later in life, when I was personally affected by something that went outside the rules, I am ashamed that I spoke words of condemnation.
God has forgiven me, and so has the recipient of my words. God has also changed my heart. I am, as one author refers to himself, a recovering legalist. God has opened my eyes to His grace, founded on love. Judgment, condemnation, and hate do not fit the equation of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice of love. Pushing Christianity down the throats of others is not our mission, and it never was with Christ. Jesus came not to judge; yet we as Christians think we have some inside track to do that very thing.
When laws, rules, regulations, and ideas, grounded in Biblical thinking, becomes priority over patience, kindness, compassion, love, forgiveness, gentleness, joy, peace, justice, mercy, faithfulness, and self-control, something is radically wrong. Jesus recognized this when he called the Pharisees, hypocrites.
Have we become hateful, hypocritical Christians, focusing on some things, but ignoring the matters of the heart? Do we, by our hypocrisy, strut piously while shutting the door to the kingdom in the faces of people? Who would ever want to come through the doors of the kingdom, when we do not really enter ourselves? (Matthew 23:13) Hateful Christianity, an oxymoron, like oil and water, will not mix. Woe unto us who spew hate, or even have a condemning thought, claiming it’s in the name of Jesus Christ.
God, Thank you for showing me your true love by grace, not judgment. In Christ Name, Amen
~ Jenny Calvert