Over at the Internet Monk site, Michael Spencer recently posted a piece entitled: You Tell Me…Why Does Red Envelope Day Bother Me? And the usual disdain for the shallowness of conservative Evangelicals followed in the comments section, which got me to thinking about some things that have bothered me for some time.
For one thing, the cynically broad-brushed comments – that assume the participants in Red Envelope Day will be lazy, suburban, do-nothings, who are unwilling to carry their Pro-Life convictions beyond the mailbox – are so edifyingly Christ-like that, when I read them, I almost got up out of my wheelchair and walked. Thank God for self-righteous non-Evangelicals!!! (Cue the 'Hallelujah Chorus'.)
Why is it that at the same time they're chastising Pro-Lifers, for not being sensitive enough to those who may be faced with an unexpected/unwanted pregnancy, the critics show no sensitivity for those they're chastising? Why is hypocrisy so often used to condemn hypocrisy? Are they unaware – or do they just not care??
It seems the height of hypocrisy to bash Conservatives for being superficial, when so many of the criticisms are based on the most outwardly obvious manifestations of sin. And while the more 'progressive/sophisticated' critics are always quick to profess an awareness that they themselves are “far from perfect” and “the worst of sinners”, the stones they're casting would seem to indicate they don't really believe that at all.
Jesus said that the world will know we're his disciples by the fact that we love one another (you know, by attacking one another in public)? He also had strong words for those who would judge others hypocritically (and the words weren't 'blessed are you when...'). So why do critics think it's okay to show more respect for unbelievers than for fellow believers?
I wonder if part of the reason is because they usually don't know the unbeliever well enough to despise them, yet? Or perhaps there is a sense of smug superiority when around those who are still so obviously entangled in sin. Also, unbelievers are less likely to expect you to behave in a Christ-like way. And why is it always assumed that the troubled person is an unbeliever? Maybe they're as much of a believer as the critic – only their sins are a little harder to hide than intellectual pride.
Why does it never seem to occur to the 'critics-in-Christ', that people like those Red Envelope mailers may be just as in need of understanding and compassion as the pregnant teen, homeless wino, or battered wife?? Conservative Christians are often no more or less likely to have their acts together than anyone else. And you know what really stinks? They're your brothers and sisters in Christ (if your faith is in Jesus). They're your family – the unbelievers are not. Those annoying Evangelicals have been called to dine at the same table as you have – and by the same Host.
It's not that criticism is wrong in and of itself. Far from it. There is plenty to criticize about all branches of modern Churchianity. But the “I know I'm not perfect, but at least I'm not like those idiots” brand of criticism is something for which Jesus had less than positive words.