Friday, May 15, 2009
With a book title like Finding Faith in a Skeptical World, I just didn't feel like I should hurl the usual lighter fare Dregs questions at Chet Galaska.
So I asked him just one question. One that I struggle with a bit. When I look around me, and sometimes in the mirror, I get a little disillutioned with what I see as hypocrisy at best, and a total lack of concern for people at worst. The things I do write the book of me. And if I churn out yucky crud, I'm not presenting myself and my faith in a very good light.
This is what I asked Chet and this was his response.
How do Christians sit under truth and even teach truth and then fall into horrific sins? How can God allow us to slap Him and destroy any witness/testimony of His power in our lives? What can we do to protect ourselves from falling into the traps Satan loves to set for us so that we don’t do more harm than good with our lives?
What we’re really talking about is hypocrisy. Here’s a definition of it: “the practice of claiming to have standards or beliefs that are contrary to one’s real character or actual behavior.”
Christians are often accused of being hypocrites. And you know what? We are.
Our standards and beliefs are those taught in the Bible. They’re guidelines to living a selfless, giving, forgiving, merciful, non-judgmental, thankful, kind, compassionate, patient, joyful, peaceful, and loving existence. The Bible also tells us to avoid evil thoughts, envy, anger, building up treasures on earth, revenge and gossip. The second most important command in the Bible (after loving God) is to love your neighbor as yourself.
God’s given us ideals to direct our lives and they’re not attainable 24/7 by me, you or anybody else. Our responsibility is to try to live by them and, with His help, become more conformed to them the longer we practice our faith. We won’t ever be perfect – and totally non-hypocritical – until this life is over. God knows this, and gives us the gift of forgiveness to help us cope with our failures.
I don’t know that Christians deliberately “slap God.” But we certainly often fall short of His ideals. Take a look at the list in the second paragraph and ask yourself if you can get through a day without at least thinking about violating some of them. Are you ever judgmental, even if it’s only in your own mind? Do you ever get mad? Ever pass a beggar without making a donation? The chances are that if you do, your reaction is remorse for not doing the right thing – not defiance of God.
Having said this, there are self-identified Christians who commit horrific sins. The question to ask is “Are they really Christians?” If their unrepentant deeds fall outside of the command to “love your neighbor as yourself,” then they probably aren’t. These people obviously don’t take biblical teaching to heart and can readily fall into traps because they don’t distinguish between right and wrong. And worse, they may not even care.
We are not Jesus or God the Father. We’re people, and God knows we can’t measure up to His standards, at least not all the time. God’s number one rule is that we should love Him. If we love Him, we’ll strive to live the way He wants us to. And it’s the striving that sets Christians apart. A Christian who’s serious about his faith will behave better than those who don’t, and as a consequence the believer gets God’s support, strength, forgiveness and eternal life. These gifts from God are evident in Christian behavior and demonstrate the effect God has had on our lives.
God is forgiving, and this is one of the things that enables Christians to live forward-looking, optimistic lives despite our flaws. His way of dealing with sin is one of the ways he opens faith to non-believers. Look at it this way: if God loved only to those who were perfect, where could anyone who wasn’t perfect – namely everybody – find hope? If Christians were perfect, and never disobeyed God’s rules, then the message would be that imperfect people need not apply for God’s grace.
It’s important to stay in God’s word by learning about Him, going to church, and trying to live according to His teachings. Being aware of what’s right and what’s wrong is the first step in doing this. Having this knowledge is the most important step in avoiding traps and being a good example to the world.
Despite the inevitable lapses, once they understand their faith Christians actions promote it. They volunteer more, give more frequently to charity and give almost four times more than secular contributors. They donate their time twice as frequently as others and are twice as likely to donate blood as those who don’t attend church. They also demonstrate kindness, mercy and a peace that eludes others.
In a nutshell, Christians need to understand their faith and accept Jesus into their hearts. The result will be an ability to recognize traps while the indwelling of the Holy Spirit provides the strength to avoid them. And the knowledge that God is willing to forgive you for your missteps provides the peace of knowing He’ll help you get up, dust yourself off and continue improving as life goes on.
Click on the book cover, poke around a bit. What do you think? What are your thoughts on Chet's answer and my question?
C. William “Chet” Galaska was born in 1951. He began his college education at Drew University in Madison, NJ and graduated from the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He co-founded a company that grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and was its President for 24years. He also served as Chairman of the New England Chapter of the American Foundry Society. In 2003 he sold his interest in the company and now invests in real estate.
Chet is a former unbeliever who became a Christian after years of investigating the faith with an open mind. His first book, Finding Faith in a Skeptical World, is a down-to-earth explanation of what he learned. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Massachusetts. They have two grown sons, Jon and Drew.