“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20
This might be the cornerstone of Junk Christianity- the reason why the phrase exists. Everyone knows a Pugilist within the Pew. Beyond the glistering smile and sweet mumbles of “God-bless you child,” there churns a seemingly evil caricature that resembles nothing of Jesus Christ. Wear shorts to church instead of slacks? She will punch you in the throat for appearances as quickly as she will open a hymnal and carol Hallelujah. Make a mistake? He will judo chop those who sin differently than the rest, quicker than one can say “amen.” Many of the “Establishment” within the church might deny this occurrence. Yet, anyone with eyes and a half of a brain should immediately disagree. Concealed within the shimmers of Christianity are shadowy assassins, common church goers ready to slay with their verbal daggers.
Nonetheless, I believe the culture and Christians in general have approached this “defectiveness” all wrong. Many go to church expecting to find perfection-a perfect environment to worship, a perfect pastor to deliver a perfect sermon, perfect music to sing along with, and perfect people who do not question, carp, or share the slightest of opinion. Some of those that attend a church literally expect to be entertained, tickled, lightly challenged, and spiritually counseled within an hour service. Anything more or less is offensive. Of course, this is an impossible task for anyone to achieve.
Before handling the small sector of Pugilist, there are a few truths that must be prioritized. Let’s put this matter in the proper perspective. However, for a brief moment let’s also set aside those who intentionally pursue trouble with an agenda, and discuss genuine Christ followers as a whole.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
EVERYONE IS A HYPOCRITE
Frequently, the statement is made “Christians are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites!” Yes. I agree. While this excuse is lame and much overused, the assertion is absolutely true. We’re all a bunch of frauds. However, the church is meant to be a hospital for the broken and mangled, not a high society for the worthy. While there are those who pretend to be flawless, in reality, we’re all a bunch of messed up loonies trying to get it right with Jesus. Despite the efforts, you cannot put lipstick on total depravity. Those who truly followed Jesus in biblical times recognized this fact and came to terms with it. Indeed, they were completely hopeless without the victory of Christ. Throughout history, frail men have repeatedly risen to great heights for God’s glory, merely by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, the battle with their flesh remained an ongoing jaunt. Yes, there were triumphant moments. However, there were also failures.
Personally, this story rings especially true. Professionally, I wear the badge of minister. Most believe a “Man of the Cloth” is one that lives an impeccable life with no struggles of sin. Respectfully, I object and always try my hardest not to laugh aloud when the suggestion is made. My response is simple. “God qualifies the called…not calls the qualified.” The Lord knows very well my weaknesses: anger and lust. I don’t shy away from discussing this. In my wiser years, I’ve learned how to manage the former with reckless surrender, maturity, and commonsense. Outlets like boxing and weight training have relieved trifling irritations and anxieties. On the contrary, the latter is a blood-stained war I actively fight every minute of the day on the front line, where holiness and the sexual gorilla inside of me collide. Some days I win…others I lose.
97% of individuals quietly fall in line behind the mark which I stand. Understandably, most choose not to talk publicly. I simply just happen to not put much stock into what others think. Whatever verbiage one chooses to use will probably fit the description well…hypocrite…or phony. Ironically, “I’ll let you be the judge.”
Sound dramatic? It is. I cannot pretend otherwise. On my worst days I question whether my faith is genuinely “More Than Judas’.” Conversely, on occasions, the Lord will display His MIGHTY strength through a weakling like me, just as He did the Apostle Peter after Pentecost, and my breath is taken away. Here’s what I know. Playacting a life of superiority is far overrated. Like I said, you can’t put lipstick on total depravity. Only by the cross of Christ am I able to stand strong, and actively pursue a life “above reproach” as a pastor is called to do. Authenticity is attained by coming to this reality. Everything else merely leads to self-righteousness.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” John 14:1
JESUS CHRIST IS THE LITMUS TEST…AND NO ONE ELSE.
Whether realized or not the church is built with damaged goods. The Body of Christ are those individuals that limp along behind Jesus with our crutches and wheelchairs, as we follow the One and only Perfect Man. Again. Jesus Christ walked this earth without sin, not Johnny the former drug addict or Sally the alcoholic. Perry the Pugilist isn’t the standard for Christianity, nor is Deacon Dan, the successful business man and excellent role model for others to admire. Finally, neither is Pastor Phil, the leader of the congregation and excellent preacher of thirty years. Moreover, the minister across town who fell from grace after after having sex with the assistant is not the measure for Christ followers either.
No. Only Christ Jesus is the Litmus Test for Christianity. NO ONE ELSE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO FULFILL THIS ROLE. The Son of Man lived a flawless life. Yet, when an unfortunate circumstance arises, bystanders often wish to hold mankind responsible for all of Christianity. We have to stop looking to man as the standard by which we place our moral faith, for we will be disappointed every time.
I regularly hear. “Pastor Jack disappointed me, so I am not going to church anymore,” or “People talked bad about me!” Well. Did Jesus thwart the experiences? Doubtful…This too is a lame excuse meant only to justify not going to church. Just “man up” and say you don’t want to go church. And last I checked you are not exactly completely innocent- and more than likely have committed these infractions to another person dozens of times.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2
So what do we do about the Pugilists? Well…not much. In time, God will handle those who purposefully seek trouble within the congregation. If He chooses to accomplish this through church leadership, discipline, or by other means, then so be it. Christ Followers must continue to show the love of Jesus to these individuals. Yes, this is difficult. Sometimes there is nothing more challenging than biting the tongue or holding back a slapping hand. However, this is where Jesus’ love shines the brightest.
Furthermore, remember the points made above. Everyone is a hypocrite. Yes, even you. Most importantly, Jesus Christ is the Litmus Test…And no one else. Not the person battling sin, falling from grace, or the one swinging the punches. Never forget. Where there is Light. There will always be bugs.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
We must always remember that mankind desperately needs Jesus. You are just as messed up as the Pugilist- the two of you simply sin differently. Don’t let another messed up fool be the excuse you are not going to church- at least have the courage to tell God the truth. Because of our depraved nature, misconceptions will occur, stupid decisions will be made, hurtful words will be said, and tiffs will be had. I guarantee it. This is why we need the Messiah. The human flesh can never be the proof for Christianity-only the sinless life, sacrificial death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ can satisfy this postulate.
Part One- Junk Christianity
Part Two- Christian Marriages: Pornography & the not so sacred wedding vowels.
Part Three- Judging: What do the words “Do not judge…” in Matthew 7: 1-5 really mean?
Part Four-The Pugilist within the Pews: The Christian judger and hypocrite.
Part Five- Christian None’rs: Following Christ from the couch.
Part Six- The Shallow Surface Preacher: The breakdown of the podiums and the withering pews.