Butler County Times Gazette
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By Corey Landreth
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Nov. 27, 2012 12:01 a.m.

We've heard it before.  And if you're a Christian, you've probably heard it often.  Christians are hypocrites.  Well, I'm going set the record straight once and for all.  Yes, we are.  Christians are hypocrites because Christians are people.  I've been able to spend some time with some individuals who believe that we Christians don't walk the talk and because of that have chosen more rational paths, like Buddhism and Hinduism as more non-hypocritical religious choices.  The problem is that they are just people too.  Which means that those who claim Christianity is full of hypocrites are at the same time hypocritical in their own lives.

Let's face it, we are all hypocritical.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  I will get after my wife because she sometimes shows a lack of will power.  She's got to have that diet Pepsi.  And then I blow off going to the gym.  It's difficult to live out everything you say you believe all the time.  We all (that means everybody) struggle at times and don't do something we know we should or do something we know we shouldn't.  Doesn't matter whether you're a Christian, Mormon, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh, we all have moments when we don't live up to our own talk.  I think it's because the one thing we have in common is our humanity and humanity is messy.

So here's the answer to the question of hypocrisy.  Do not look at a single individual, in any walk of life and from any religious or irreligious stance, and base your understanding of their position solely on their actions alone.  Instead, look at their religion, their belief system and determine if it is sound from the core and if it truly has merit regardless of the individuals ability to follow it 100% of the time.

Here's what I'm saying.  I'm a Christian.  I believe what the Bible says about the person of Jesus.  I believe in His perfect life, His atoning death and His literal resurrection.  Now, the Bible tells me the way I am supposed to life (I don't always live that way - in case you were wondering if I were super-human or something).  The Bible is different from any other religion or faith for several reasons but here's my opinion on a few.

The Bible pushes peace and living in peace and at peace with those around you.  We are told to "turn the other cheek."  But God doesn't forbid war or the protection of property, family or country.  When the Apostle Paul was asked by a couple soldiers what their lives should look like as believers in Jesus his response was that they refrain from extortion (a common practice of the military in that day), not that they give up their jobs as soldiers.  So we have the hope of peace in the reality of war.  It is a beautiful balance that takes into consideration not only the protection of the individual but the salvation of the enemy.  We are told in the Bible that if someone forces us to give them our jacket we should give them a shirt too.  Not for the sake of being a pacifist but so that this undeserved generosity might open the door for repentance and salvation.

The Bible tells us how we ought to live, while leaving room for our inevitable failure.  We are too live like Christ but God recognizes that we will not always live up to that standard.  There is an abundance of grace for the sinner and mercy for the saint.  However, the Bible points to the truth that our behavior (though not always perfect) is exactly what non-believers will be looking at before they make a decision to follow Christ themselves.  So once again there is this beautiful balance an incredibly high standard in Jesus, a recognition that we will not always be able to live up to it (though that is why He sent us His Spirit) and the reality that our behavior is exactly what others will look at when making a personal determination about Jesus.

The Bible is not a book of rules and regulations - yes, there are some - but it's really a book about freedom. See, true freedom comes when you are able to experience all that life has to offer and are not tied down and limited by the consequences for your actions.  For instance, true freedom comes from not having to be afraid every time you see a police officers on the highway because you know you're not breaking any laws.  Those who break the laws of the road live in fear of being caught and anger when they are instead of peace.  Freedom means living with your spouse as the only person you've ever been sexually intimate with.  No fear of disease, not having to take a pill every day to control breakouts, not having to be emotionally tied to others who you loved and left.  Being able to give yourself completely to one person is freedom - not control.  Are you living a free life if you can't enjoy a movie because mid-way through you start craving another cigarette?  Is freedom being so strung out you can't function?  You're always sick and can't hold down a job?  Which means you don't have money to enjoy life and do the things you really want to do because you're tied to something that now has you captive.  That is not freedom, it's captivity.

God wants us to live full lives, to experience real life that's why you find rules and guidelines in the Bible, not to keep you captive, but to help you enjoy freedom!  Whether every believer lives out their faith or not God should not be held responsible for the failures of His people, only their successes.  Horrible things done in the Name of God are not God's fault, they are the manipulations of misguided and at times evil men seeking their own benefit and glory over His.  Experience God for yourself, then make a decision.

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