Friday, May 27, 2022

Rev. Klockers: So the Church is filled with hypocrites: Tell me something new

| August 26, 2021 1:00 AM

"(The Church) exists for nothing else but to draw (people) into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose.” (From “Mere Christianity,” by C.S. Lewis)

I have head it said that the Church is filled with hypocrites. I wholeheartedly agree.

In my view, organized religion is only useful if it makes a difference in both belief and behavior. I’m sad to report that we often fail.

Well, gold stars for near-perfect attendance and contributing sums of money in the offering plate. However, what about living as “little Christs?”

The Apostle Paul writes: “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Let’s take a single word from those verses: slander. A definition of slander is making false and damaging statements about someone or something.

Whatever you wish to call it – rumor, gossip, hearsay – can be cast like pieces of bread given to ducks and geese at a park. It may seem like a harmless thing to do. However, truth be known, it is terrible for their digestive systems and overall health. Nevertheless, waterfowl will gobble it up (tip: use frozen peas instead).

So it is with slander; it may seem harmless enough at the time, but can result in a damaged reputation, sometimes permanent. The accusations may not be true, yet still taken as gospel once cast and received.

This juicy information can lead to beliefs (and actions) based upon a false foundation built from strong opinion, imperfect perceptions, half-truth, or downright lies. My advice? When you hear such things, it is best to talk to the source instead of fully trusting the messenger.

The difference for the churchgoer is that they should stop short of committing the sin of slander. If not, they should catch themselves after the fact, pray to God for forgiveness, and be mindful not to repeat this offense. They should then go and confess their sin to the person whose reputation has been harmed. (Unfortunately, the latter rarely happens.)

The Eighth Commandment (for Catholics and Lutherans) is: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther advises the following about this commandment:

“What does this mean? We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

Over the span of my lifetime, there have been occasions that I have slandered others.

What I have learned is that it is far better to build another person up than to tear them down needlessly.

This is what the church-going person should do.

Is this the end of the story? Far from it. I also believe that the world is filled with hypocrites (especially those who point to the Church when they are in fact in the same boat).

So, as far as hypocrites go, we are everywhere. The Church doesn’t have a corner on the market.

The difference with the Church is that there is a greater calling to do something about it.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.