|Photo Credit to www.sodahead.com|
"Why are so many Christians hypocrites?" she* asked. "Not you or your sister and parents, but so many others," she muttered, staring at the sandwich in front of her. "Pretending perfect, they go to church, but we all see it."
Snow flies past the window and onto the slushy sidewalks outside Panera Bread. Inside in cozy heat, we sit at tiny tables, eating french onion soup and creamy avocado-topped sandwiches.
Just two years apart in age, we had grown up together, and learned about Jesus from the same people. In the past fifteen years, however, we had walked different directions with the Jesus-question. That never stopped our friendship, though, and our talks continued, over coffee, over the phone, and over sandwiches.
"Well, I think we all wrestle with it," I admit, wiping crumbs off the table and thinking hard.
"Now, you remember that going to church doesn't make you a Christian, right? Or that being a good person doesn't get you into heaven? But I think that most of the time we humans fall into the concept of trying to earn our way --keeping track of the good and bad we do and comparing ourselves to others. Even though the Bible is clear that none of us can earn our way to God and that this new relationship with God is only a gift from him (open to anyone) -- still, I think we too often forget. Falling back into the trap of trying to do good or look good, and trying to disregard the junk in our life, we're really just trying to convince ourselves. So, for me..." I pause.
She listens, while I swirl my glass, obviously still in thought.
"I'm trying to remember that my being a follower of Jesus doesn't mean that I have to be perfect. In fact, it means admitting with God that I'm not-- saying sorry for my junk and thanking him that his plan works. This freedom of not having to earn my way is liberating, and should free me to talk honestly about the things I wrestle with. Admitting my junk, being the first to bring it up, and saying sorry (to God, to others) is freeing. Knowing that Jesus loves me deeply and unconditionally brings such joy!"
"So when you see hypocrisy, it's often because people don't know about God's system and are trying to earn it on their own; or that we've forgotten and think we have to flash our good and deny or hide away our bad, instead of just honestly handing it to God and saying sorry."
She nods and I shut up, knowing it's my turn to listen. Clearing her throat, she shifts position in her chair, and responds. Nodding, hearing, I swallow soup and see from her side of the table.
Snow continues to fall outside, and we laugh and talk, cracking jokes before falling serious again. It's safe and humble, as we talk.
*Details changed for privacy.
Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.