Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

On Haggard and Hypocrisy

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This time last week, all anyone could talk about was John Kerry’s (botched) joke.  Now, his problem with pronouns is all but ignored (locally, anyway) by the fall of Ted Haggard.  Ah, hypocrisy, some will say, thy name is Christian. 
And you know what?  There is some truth to that.  For instance, I find swear words foul and feel that their use constitutes a strained ignorance on the part of their users.  But one made itself quite useful when I tripped over the cat last night.  Hypocritical?  You bet. 
See, despite the law or even the Bible, religious affiliation or no, we all have a small behavioral checklist we like to keep in our pocket.  Some of us enjoy keeping score more than others, and still others delight in pointing out the unchecked portions of their neighbor’s list.  But dwelling there threatens to stray from the point.  We can argue the merit of Mike Jones’s effort to expose Haggard from now until rapture and it won’t change anyone’s mind.  What we need to remember here is that while we all may have a stone ready to throw at someone, there’s a crowd waiting somewhere to return the volley. 
Hypocrisy, if anyone bothers to have a good look around, happens every day.  We Christians like to say that sin is sin, be it a little white lie or an act of high treason.  If this is so, then we have to paint hypocrisy with same monotonic brush.  The truth is, we apply degrees to sin and corrupt morals because of the varying degrees of hurt they can inflict.  I know I have said words that have meant no harm and have still inflicted deep wounds. At the end of the day, no one has met the demands of their checklist.  
Remember Saving Private Ryan?  More than any other film, I think it portrays the brutality of even the most important of wars with hard honesty.  World War II altered the fate of the entire planet, and I think we’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to hedge the opinion that we should have just left Hitler alone.  But I am drifting again, I apologize.  The film tells the story of nine men sent to return Private James Francis Ryan back home after his brothers are killed in combat.  The effort to save this man’s family line results in the deaths of all but two of those sent to rescue him.  As Tom Hanks’s character lies wounded on the ground just after the climactic battle, he grasps Private Ryan by the shoulder.  “Earn this,” he whispers.  “Earn it.” 
Those words clung to my ears and left the theater with me.  How do you earn something like that?  How can you possibly earn back your life after so much blood was spilled to save it?  The answer’s simple: you can’t.  You can try to live a good life, but your checklist will never be filled—its thirst can never be quenched.  Suddenly, a benign effort of goodness has become a horrible taskmaster bent on your submission. 
This, perhaps above all reasons, is why believers cling to grace.  Sure, you can knock it if you want to.  But if you’ve come with me this far, bear with me for one or two more paragraphs—I promise they’ll be short. 
We believe that God entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ to accomplish two things: fulfill the checklist, and receive punishment as though he had not.   His resurrection allows us to take his mantle, and walk into paradise free from the requirement of having to earn something we cannot possibly attain unless we too were God. 
Pastor Ted Haggard has fallen.  While it may not be the most prudent logic, people will judge other Christians by his fall.  Were he the head of the church, this might deal a crushing blow to our faith.  The leader of our church, however, is Jesus Christ.  Compared to him, there is no measure—we are all hypocrites. God have mercy, we are all hypocrites.  


Written by taj

November 8, 2006 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Evangelism

One Response

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  1. I agree with you on the swearing. I didn’t always, but more and more I do. Although, I still find them to have certain advantages at times, usually when driving through town. I must lose my salvation twice a day on the road.

    Lord Vertigo

    November 22, 2006 at 3:10 pm

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