Hi there. My name is JC, you may remember me from long ago or you may just have gotten to know me recently. Perhaps you don’t know me at all and stumbled across me on social media or this blog. It really doesn’t matter, I guess. I’ve been a preacher for years, ever since I was 19 (I’m a youthful 45 now).
During a bulk of that time, I labored for God with an undiagnosed condition that would occasionally rear its head and attempt to destroy my life. See, I’ve been through some mess, just like you. I am not your typical preacher, I came up the rough side of the mountain. If you know me in person you probably know some of the stories of what I’ve seen and done. If you know me really well, you know some of the really bad stories. Then there are the folks that think they know me and probably should but I never trusted them enough to tell them my full story.
At any rate, my point is that I’m a lot like you. Not the public you but the jacked up one. I have fallen apart, fell down, did things I am ashamed of. I’ve messed up enough (some from CPTSD, some from people’s actions that broke me, some because I wanted to do it) that I am only really qualified to look at your mess, nod and say “me too” and point you to God.
Here’s the thing though; I admit it all. I know the things that are my fault and I know the things that I couldn’t help. My journey this year when my wife that I adored and that was my best friend left me is public knowledge. I handled everything wrong, man, everything. Due to my mental condition before it was diagnosed, I could not process the pain. I became a huge flaming ball of addiction, fighting, lashing out verbally and godlessness. This is no understatement, believe me. There were two suicide attempts and a few close calls with death.
I am not Ned Flanders but neither am I weak. I’ve seen more and experienced more trauma than anyone else I know; eventually I just snapped. My heart was torn from me and I no longer cared about people, the church, God or my own life. At one point I went 17 days without eating, just drinking 24/7; I had lost the will to live.
Now I’m not sharing this for sympathy, I’m not trying out for Miss Congeniality, I just want you to know that I’m not perfect. I’m okay with that. Sure, I would have been better off not showing the world my flaws, Christians deserted me by the thousands. However, what I have gained as a result far outweighs the losses.
I can look at the lost and broken and fallen and sinful and just whisper, “It’s alright, me too…”.
Now here is where we run into a problem. No one looked at me in that mess and said “me too”, though they were. Instead they blocked me, posted things about me to everyone that knew me, gossiped and engaged in character assassinatiom because I proved to be human. They left me there to die on the side of the road as they passed by on the other side, tsk tsking my condition and calling it God’s judgement.
Frailty, thy name is hypocrite.
Tell me, have you ever been overwhelmed by life or loss and acted in ways that were outside of your character?
Have you ever sinned and had someone stand beside you, defending you as you lay there helpless?
Have you touched yourself to porn or to a fantasy and never told anyone?
Have you ever not been the person that you pretend to be? And as a result of not being able to deal with your own guilt, blamed someone else and destroyed them rather than deal with what you truly are when God let’s you slip into your flesh?
Have you ever neglected your spouse and pretended everything was groovy in public?
Have you ever faked your relationship with God and continued to preach anyway although the fire in you went out long ago?
Have you ever railed against sinners and gays and yet ignored your own weight problem or lust problem or selfish ambition?
Then friend, you may be a hypocrite.
See, hypocrites like to paint their outsides when their insides are filthy. They like to shun people that stood by them in their mess, because what they are doing is “wrong”. Hypocrites like to sit at counters in their chicken restaurants, their gluttony causing their chair to creak dangerously as they type mean things against people under obvious attacks, a Churchian troll without the benefit of a track record that proves that God every had any use for you at all.
Hypocrites distance themselves and point fingers to justify their total lack of Christian love or mercy. Hypocrites blame everyone else and recuse themselves from anything that reminds them of the truth, claiming to be seeking God while perusing their own selfish course.
And it makes the God they claim to serve sick. Let me show you.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
34 And in anger his master delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all his debt.
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:23-35 esv
Here is the heart of God. You take his grace so greedily, lavishing it on yourself. You sit night after night watching tv while people perish outside of your door without even having the common courtesy to pray for them. Your hunger for his word disappeared long ago, your desperation for his presence and power died alongside it. Yet every Sunday you pretend. Hypocrite.
You sinned and everyone knew it and yet now you feel justified to separate yourself from someone else whose actions only proved they were a lot like you. Hypocrite.
You go to God begging for mercy for your besetting sins, hoping they will never be found out and then refuse grace to the one whose sin became public. Hypocrite.
You want God in your life so long as you don’t have to forgive, don’t have to forget, don’t have to restore. You gladly whistle on your way, doing as you please and justifying yourself by pointing out what someone else did. Pharisee and hypocrite.
Your weakness is your testimony and the only love you are required to give is the one that you yourself have taken from God. That should be simple; I am not good, my actions known and unknown have proven that. Therefore Jesus in me loves you. We fall down but we get up. And when we get up, we do so in love and forgiveness and humility.
Because the debt you owe God makes the sins that others have committed look like Romper Room, Jack. And be very careful lest the righteous judge turns from you and demands your repayment of that debt on your own.
God is not mocked and those that act right while doing wrong are sure to find that out.