I remember as a teenager who grew up in the church that I had some biting criticism for the people in the church because they were a bunch of hypocrites. They seemed to say one thing and do another. Their lives were inconsistent with their beliefs. Later in my young adulthood I joined my lot with this “bunch of hypocrites” and despite my ideals have become what I so despised. It has happened without much effort, all along my life’s journey.
I realized it again today. I was preparing a lecture on Menno Simons and looking for some good quotes to illustrate my points. Here’s a good one –
“Is it not sad and intolerable hypocrisy that people boast of having the Word of God, of being the true Christian church, yet never remembering that they have entirely lost their sign of true Christianity? For although many of them have plenty of everything, go about in silk and velvet, gold and silver, and in all manner of pomp and splendor; ornament their houses with all manner of costly furniture; have their coffers filled, and live in luxury and splendor, yet they suffer many of their own poor, afflicted members to ask alms; and poor hungry, suffering, old, lame, blind, and sick people to beg bread at their doors. Oh preachers, dear preachers, where is the power of the Gospel you preach?”
While I include this provocative quote we are spending a few thousand dollars on a new floor in our house while millions in the world do not have a house. Now, I know all the justifications about how we were living on plywood for a few years, and how it will improve the resale value of our house, and how it is our income tax return, and how we did give 10% of it, and people in other climates don’t need houses like we do in Canada, and how living in voluntary poverty just makes us leeches on society, and how it’s more complicated than donating money, and of course the best reason is that I got a good deal on some laminate! etc. etc. but it still troubles me. Oh, and to top it off we are paying $35 a ticket to hear the Great Lake Swimmers tonight! Oh, but my mom did send me some money as a birthday present which i have not spent yet :-).
It is easy, well a bit embarrassing, to confess my hypocrisy to the electronic world out there but it is a bit harder now that we are a double income family to actually practice the ideals of simplicity than it was when I was a poor college student. I claim to follow the Jesus who had no place to lay his head. It is a difficult journey and I also know we are not called to wallow in self-mutilation, as I am also wont to do. Hopefully a few confessions along the way can provide some catharsis. Hi, my name is Gareth and I’m a hypocrite.