Saturday, September 12, 2009

Home and Away – Partiality and Snobbery Make Way for True Christianity

One of the greasy tactics of people grabbing a psychological advantage is positioning ‘home’ stand-offs such that the merest advantage might be gained in off-putting the foe (as everyone’s ‘a foe’). It’s quite a popular ploy in business even to the positioning of people around the table at a meeting. Home ground advantage counts if you’re the competitive type.

We know this home ground advantage works in the sporting arena. Certain teams and clubs have names for their dominance. Subiaco oval has been tagged “the house of pain” previously as opposition teams often struggle to win there against the local teams.

Christians are not apt at thinking their own kind as those into snobbish skulduggery, but I wonder. I see plenty of evidence around me and in my social networking that suggests confessing Christians (and even leaders) are as bad as, if not worse, than those supposedly more carnal. It’s the pharisaic approach of ‘I’m better and I deserve to hold sway.’ Like home ground advantage, these people shift the conversation for their benefit routinely.

The sweet and slender irony is Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his day for the same thing that many of our leaders in the church are downright guilty of and blind about in our day. It smacks of hypocrisy—and worse, a dangerously blind hypocrisy—blind guides indeed.

True Christians will seek to give away the advantage—being happy to ‘play away’ by meekly listening to others and let meekness win the day. They’re the ones Jesus referred to in his Beatitudes. Yet, you won’t genuinely find most pastors actually living these qualities as ‘the ministry’ seems eternally plagued with those who see it as a status symbol—a sort of outwardly humble, yet inwardly prideful demeanour pervades. How many low paid pastors do better than the harder working secular person? God’s blessings? Hardly.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Geez, ease up mate; not being a trifle unfair here are you?’ Many do live consistently the life after Christ. But there are only a small percentage from my view of things that on a daily (moment-by-moment) basis humble themselves (genuinely) before the throne of grace. And, by the way, to say these things means I place the acid on myself, and gladly so. Why should I not also be a hypocrite for Christ’s sake and glory? I’ll gladly be that sort of fool. As it was for Jeremiah and Jesus it is for us... unfaithfulness everywhere.

The test of the pastor is this. Do they behave like a repentant sinner (routinely)? Can they genuinely be the friend to the person Jesus came to serve and set free? How do they relate with the mentally impaired and drug addicts? Or do they go the popular way. Do they shoot for favouritism which James condemned? The numbers have it! The numbers (i.e. the seeking for same) are the dead giveaway. How many well-to-do people do they speak of? What about name-dropping? Do they engage in, and promote, “the click?” i.e. that society that disallows everyone but those ‘who fit.’ Do they claim credit for the Spirit’s work? Do they use their sermons as a way of catapulting their importance? Do they intellectualise things of faith instead of simplifying it?

True Christianity, however, is radically paradoxical, yet “radical” has lost its power these days as it’s a word too flippantly used. This radical believer gives things (and their very lives) away to the absurd yet weirdly it’s afterwards that other people feel specially blessed—and Christ gets the glory. I know I personally have a long way to go.

When we’re given home ground advantage i.e. the chance to glorify ourselves at the expense of others, how lovely to genuinely and authentically choose to raise others up instead, giving them the home ground advantage. That’s the Jesus creed.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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