Many people believe they come hand in hand, but before branding, let’s think again.
This week, I shared “Developing an Encouraging Heart” to my Victory Group. As Christians, it is our duty to encourage and not to discourage (check out Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:25) . Christianity is already an uphill climb with so many distractions and so much room for detours. That’s why we need each other in our journey. I discussed eight points by which we can inspire other people, especially other Christians. As I finished the eight points, we got to talking and then started discussing Christians who backslide and Christians who don’t act like, well, Christians.
Honestly, one of the reasons why it took me a long time to return to God was my fear of condemnation. I know how imperfect I am–I am well aware of my flaws and thinking about the things I’ve done in the past make me cringe and feel unworthy. I feared that the church I would join will be affected by my imperfections. You know, the “Ay pangit ‘yang church na ‘yan kasi ‘yung si Dewmaine na mataray dun sumisimba.” Actually, I often hear and join people attacking an individual’s religion when he stumbles. I remember a Christian friend who got pregnant out of wedlock (“Di ba siya ‘yung active sa church ‘nung college tapos nabuntis nang hindi kasal…“). When we were gossiping about her, the issue wasn’t that she got pregnant out of wedlock, but that she was a Christian who got pregnant out of wedlock.
Let’s admit it: people in general are too judgmental of Christians. When one stumbles, we are very quick to jump into the conclusion that that person is a fake Christian. Kulang na lang lagyan ng scarlet letter “H” for hypocrite. Nag-lose lang ng temper, nagkaron lang ng moment of weakness, “santong kabayo at banal na aso” na agad. Frankly, hindi nakakatawa.
Being a Christian is not about becoming perfect. In fact, what I learned about Christianity is the emphasis that we are all sinners and we will continue to commit sins. For me, it’s about being humble to admit that we can never be perfect or even good enough
Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”)
and that the only reason we become worthy in God’s eye is because of His Grace
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
We have high regard of David whom God described as “A man after my own heart”. Yet David committed adultery and indirect murder. Hebrews describes Moses as one of the great men of faith. Yet didn’t the book of Numbers chronicle how Moses disobeyed God?
I could go and on about how great men have sinned. My point is that if we always expect nothing short of perfection from Christians, we will be greatly disappointed. Every now and then, we will encounter Christians who might utter a cuss word, who might turn a blind eye to those who are in need, who might go a month without attending church, and a legion of other sins. In short, there is a great chance that every Christian will be branded as a hypocrite. If we keep on doing this to our fellow Christians, then no one would want to be a Christian anymore. After all, who wants to be known as a hypocrite?
So imagine how scared I was when my Victory Group leader asked me to take over and lead. I felt so unworthy. Every time I have to lead my group, I feel like everyone I have ever slighted are watching me, snickering and jeering me. How ironic that being asked to lead Christians closer to God made me realize how filthy I am. But then after that “I am so filthy” realization, I felt all the more worthy! I am worthy because I acknowledged my sins and I am ashamed of them, YET here I am fighting whatever lies and discouraging truths the devil is feeding me to veer me away from spreading the Gospel. I won’t do good deeds so I won’t be labeled as a hypocrite or because I fear that God will thrust the tip of His scepter to me to electrocute me…I will do good deeds because that’s what will please my Lord who sacrificed His blameless Son to wash away my filth.
In my opinion, Christians who stumble are not the hypocrites. It’s the passive people who do not want to get involved because they are afraid of being called santong kabayo and banal na aso. Those who think, “O, hindi ako sumisimba, wala akong religion ergo ‘pag nagmura ako, hindi ako hypocrite. Hindi tulad ng iba diyan padasal-dasal pero nagkakasala naman.” This is hypocrisy and arrogance because they know they will stumble yet for the sake of NOT being called hypocrites (or worse, so they can be the ones who can call others hypocrites) they choose to be quiet about their faith, or choose to stagnate their growth.
James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Tell me what you think!
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