Last Tuesday, I was procrastinating on my homework and surfing Facebook when a friend posted a picture of a credit card slip. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and saw the picture that most of you have seen on vast news media outlets this past week.
My first reaction was anger. I actually didn’t even acknowledge the lack of tip first. I’ve gotten some really crappy tips before, and I’ve just become completely disillusioned with it all. No, in fact, the first thing I did was question the truth of the photo. Surely no Christian, let alone a pastor, would write something like this. I questioned the validity of a pastor who thought she was going out of her way to give God something He didn’t already own. Once I discovered that a Christian pastor indeed wrote this, I was immediately filled with shame.
There’s a concept in intercultural communications called the illusory correlation principle where one group sees a relationship in a minority group where there isn’t one. This manifests itself in cultural misunderstandings and stereotypes. For example, because the Asian exchange student doesn’t like cheeseburgers, all Asians must hate them. The gentleman from a small town was kind; therefore, all people from small towns are kind. The Pakistani woman is really conservative; therefore, all Pakistanis are very conservative. Then, unfortunately, when these situations arise, we arrive at “See! Look at this Christian woman! I don’t understand why all Christians are greedy and condescending.” While Christians understand this is not how we all act, those outside of Christianity view this as the norm, further demonizing the hypocritical Christian.
And this isn’t the first time it’s happened. When Chick-fil-a got itself into a lot of hot water over their CEO’s remarks about gay marriage, some Christians decided to organize a protest of an already established LGBT protest. This was the image that resulted.
No, this happens far too many times for us to consider it a one time deal, and it will continue to happen. We are fallible human beings just like the rest of society. Although we make an effort to behave morally right, to do the morally correct thing, we fall short. Hypocrisy is no stranger to the Christian because she/he realizes that her/his brokenness is what makes Christ all the more necessary. When we stumble, it is just that, a stumble. We get back up and continue to move forward. God knows that we are not perfect, and it is through His Holy Spirit that he is working in our lives that we can do anything morally good. But here’s my problem. Sometimes, we don’t even try to do the right thing.
Others See What We Do
The first time I had a fellow Christian convict me was when I was 18. I was working at a local coffee shop as a barista, and I had one jerk of an assistant manager. We butted heads a lot over really small stuff. Looking back, it was probably my immaturity and his having to deal with 15 other immature teenagers that caused the most friction. Nonetheless, when my coworkers and I went out to eat after work, I ranted about him cussing up a storm and shouting angrily. My only Christian friend remained quiet, and once I had finished fuming, she politely excused herself. The next day, she pulled me aside, explained to me that she had struggled with telling me this, had prayed intensely about it, and finally decided to tell me that I was poorly representing the body of Christ.
What?! Who was this girl to talk down to me? I’m more of a Christian than she is! Does she think she’s better than me? She’s done worse things than I have! Well, I was cussing a lot. Well, I guess I was being overly angry. I was wrong. It turns out that even though I was saying the right things when it was convenient to me, I was doing something completely different. Why would they want what I have if I’m exactly like them? What does faith in Christ bring them if not the same level of bitterness and discontent? It never dawned on me that people were watching me, and I was responsible for representing the Body of Christ.
Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
1 Peter 2:11-12
Christians Under A Microscope
Are Christians under a microscope? Decidedly, so. To use a technical, theological term, it sucks. We know that we’re fallible human beings. We know that we are going to make mistakes. We know that arrogance, greed, and malice will rear its ugly head again, and yet the world still expects us to be perfect? But you know who else asks you to be perfect.
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1 Thessalonians 4:7
It’s not just society that’s demanding it of you. It’s God.
Now all of this is not to say clean up your act, wash out your mouth, don’t do drugs, and stay in school. While these are all good things to do (and not do), I’m talking more about just being charitable, loving and forgiving. So stop living like you have to prove why Christians are just like everyone else. Stop making excuses as to why you behaved a certain way or rationalizing why you still do sinful things. When you stumble, own your mistake and move forward, but strive for Christ-like perfection. Treat people charitably and follow the old saying “do the right thing, even if you think no one is watching.”
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
1 Peter 4:12-16
- Why Are Christians Such Bad Tippers? (christianitytoday.com)
- What is a Christian supposed to look like? (jsparkblog.com)
- Perseverance – Whose Responsibility Is It? (mgriffinrobert.com)