The accounts of a friend about her encounters with certain individuals in her former church remind me of one word – HYPOCRISY.
I once worked in an institution run by a religious congregation and the stories she told me made me recall my own encounters with people wearing the “habit.” Those many years that I spent with them made me realize one thing – church leaders and personalities (in any religion) and those they assign or employ to assist them in running church affairs are as human as churchgoers. It is my humble opinion that none of them is infallible. They commit mistakes. There are times that their judgment is clouded by their biases and prejudices… and God forbid, by their personal interests, whims, and fancies. I just don’t know if they are also as sinful as I am.
It is unfortunate that I don’t have any way of determining the veracity of my friend’s stories. But I know her to be very intelligent and level-headed and would never resort to concocting lies. She was just trying to vent her grievances because she was then on the verge of leaving the church. Eventually, she did. She had enough of their leaders acting and talking in a manner unbecoming of a Christian. She bewailed the failure of their leaders to observe decorum and protocol.
The personalities involved in the things my friend told me conjured up the image of somebody who is holier-than-thou. How convenient it is for some church leaders and workers to hide under the skirts of God’s words to justify what they say and do. Some of them would advance their selfish motives and interests using the gospel as their façade. What I know is that “even the devil can cite the Scripture for his purpose.” The devil, for example, quoted Psalm 91:11-12 when he tried to tempt Jesus.
My friend refuted the idea that leaving that church was a case of her putting faith in people instead of in God. Her getting offended by what she perceived as inappropriate and indecorous behavior of their leaders could (and should) not be construed as losing faith in God. Finding such behavior as unacceptable doesn’t diminish her Christianity. It was, in my opinion, actually applying the Christian norms and standards that she thought those in the church leadership positions ought to adhere to. Apparently, they didn’t.
Leaving that church means turning her back, not to her Creator, but to HYPOCRISY… of church leaders rendering lip service… of not walking their talk. Not that she did not do anything about it. She did. She tried to make her grievances known. But she was a voice crying in the wilderness.
We need to bestow reverence on those anointed by God to serve as the mediator between Him and us. But that doesn’t mean turning a blind eye when those leading us in the churches where we are attending are abusing their authority. While not each of us may have received the gift of discernment described in 1 Corinthians 12:10, all we need is common sense to determine whether or not our church leaders and workers deserve the reverence we give them and whether or not they are worthy of our obedience.
Do not forget St. Paul’s warning, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).”