Are you true to yourself before others?

September 20, 2006 § 12 Comments

In this post, pifactorial brings up the very much valid point that we as humans have a tendancy to compartmentalize who we are. By hiding parts of ourselves to certain people, we end up giving the impression that we believe other than what is truly in our hearts. Whether intentional or unintentional, Pi has challenged everyone to “unmask” if you will.

It’s really a very good idea, you know, to be honest with yourself as well as with everyone you know. It’s a policy I have tried to stick by for as far back as I can remember. Those of you who have classes with me are probably realizing by now that keeping silent when I disagree is not one of my strong suits.

Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t wisdom in holding one’s tongue. Being slow to speak, and not laying all the cards on the table right up front is a valuable skill. It’s all about appropriateness.

That being said, this concept of “Christian pride” and purposing to “go out there and tell folks I’m a Christan– darn the consequences!” is a two-way street. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and everyone is free to express them (here in LJ-land for our purposes, we will pretend that is a universally held belief.) So, while it may be liberating and freeing for some on my flist to make these categorical statements about themselves, all that is really being done is for folks to be encouraged to state their beliefs, no matter what that belief is. No, that’s not a bad thing, but it isn’t really a good thing either. It’s just someting people are doing, like any other meme.

The question of effecting change in one’s world and having an impact is when we stop just stating our beliefs, and start living them. When our beliefs begin to actually impact other people. When battle lines are in the dirt, and not just metaphorical. What one chooses to believe is completely irrelavant in the light of what they do with it. You can trumpet your Christian pride all you want, but if you aren’t walking like Jesus walked or following His commands, or LOVING like He loved, you are just a sounding gong, and all your brave “This is me, world, love it or leave it!” is nothing more than whistling into the wind. If folks have known you for any length of time and are shocked to discover you are a Christian, maybe your beliefs and actions aren’t lining up.

This is not to say that I am walking the walk perfectly myself or that I have gotten my beliefs and my actions perfectly in line. Nor am I accusing anyone specifically here of not doing so. I’m just saying, before we all start shouting to the world what we believe, or don’t believe, let’s examine ourselves and ask, “What do I do?” and further “What am I willing to do?”


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§ 12 Responses to Are you true to yourself before others?

  • welshwolf says:

    I’m glad to see and hear someone else besides me trumpet the fact that core spirituality is best expressed by actions not words. Who was it that saved the man by the side of road? It was the despised Samaritan that saved the victim of a vicious robbery and assault, not the “holy” men that were too busy and too righteous. A Christian does way more good by acting on their faith rather than talking and bragging about it. Faith in action is what I have heard it referred to as.

  • DT says:

    Thanks Patrick. It’s kinda like what Jesus told the Pharisees: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
    Our faith should be a total package– we should believe, and believe rightly, not being deceived by false doctrine and traditions of men and risking not believing in the true Christ at all. But that belief should be expressed through our deeds. Indeed, if you listen to Jesus, He tells us that it is what we do that gets us into the kingdom– and keeps us from Hell.

  • welshwolf says:

    I truly believe that we, as Christians should commit to the belief that the Trinitarian God is alive in this world, not out there or packed into a comfortable box. He is as close as the breeze or the raindrop. We must intimately embrace God as He does with us. Then, and only then, as I believe, we as humans can face this world, sharing the love of an all-encompassing God with others and not keep it to ourselves in a church. Boxing up God only leads to extremism and eventual self-destruction. Religiousity will and should never take the place of God.
    Faith in Action. How I believe Christians should act.
    Peace be with you.

  • DT says:

    “Faith in action”
    What is your faith? Who is your faith in?
    We can quibble over “boxing God” and “religiosity”, but it boils down to this– if we are not following Him the way in which He commanded us to follow Him, then our faith is not in Him.
    If we cannot take His words seriously, and accept Him on His terms– not ours– then all the faith in the world is completely useless and utter rot.
    It’s not “putting God in a box” to acknowledge that He means business, and that Jesus made very clear statements about how to follow Him, what it means to follow Him, and what will happen if we disobey.
    We don’t come to God on our terms, He allows us to come to Him on His.
    What any of us believe isn’t going to matter when we look Truth in the face, and find out ultimately how wrong we were.

  • breckinwood says:

    “If you love me, you will do what I command.”
    I see this in a lot of relationships, though, and I think too much of it can be traced to the fact that people are enamoured with romance, not true love. Look at so many “romantic” relationships. It’s all talk, and it’s all about what the other person gives, but rarely about what we give back, what we do to show love.
    Relationships like that can’t and don’t last.
    Too much of what passes as Christianity is like that, too. Lots and lots of confessing: “Oh, I love Jesus, he’s my saviour,” but too little actual obedience, and dying to one’s self, living for Him.

  • welshwolf says:

    God definitely means business, especially when it comes to keeping us from getting into big trouble. We spend way too much time trying to do things by ourselves, not allowing God to be the guide. We are not very good at guiding ourselves, which causes us to miss the mark (the Hebrew translation for sin).
    I do not wish to argue with you, as I sounds like you are questioning my beliefs and my faith. I know God, intimately. Jesus is my Saviour. The Holy Spirit guards, protects, and leads me. My relationship with God is very personal. I am in full agreement with you when it comes to acting rather than talking, but I do take issue when you ask what I believe and who I am in God. That matters not. I thought that being a Christian meant that not only is it between God and man. It was also a community of believers joining together in the walk with God. Your questioning of me makes me wonder, and I do not have to defend my faith in God. I know where I stand with the Lord.

  • krikketgirl says:

    What you say is true…but. Since we are all yet imperfect, and since we are still in the process of becoming like unto Christ, we are all going to fall down a million times. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to act out/live out our faith…but we also have to be conscious that our living out our faith may not look like you expect it to.
    Say two couples are neighbors; one woman works outside the home, the other doesn’t. We can’t say that one is living out her faith more than the other one, just by looking.
    And I guess this is basically my fear: that in shouting about how people ought to be living out their faith, we set ourselves up to be the judges of what that looks like.

  • breckinwood says:

    At the same time, we do have to kind of judge- not to condemn, but in order to be able to exhort someone who claims the Name properly, we have to be understanding of where that other person is not following through with the profession, while being VERY careful that we not fall into sin of our own while exhorting them. If the churches and her members we are in are hypocritical, on any point, or in any kind of sin, we have to point that out. If we don’t, then we aren’t being loving to our brothers and sisters who might honestly need a good shot of “judgment” for their good and growth.
    All of us are going to have very different views of how some of the externals of Christianity should look- but in the core matters our walk must be the same. There are some things where there is no debate, because it is so clear in Scripture, and every true church will recognize that and its believers will strive to obey. Other things, not so much. But we do have to “judge” in order to be any real help to others on the path with us.

  • krikketgirl says:

    Certainly. However, we also must have done our homework as a Christian before we ever begin to try to do this. Removing, as it were, the plank from our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from someone else’s. Also, exhorting is really only going to work well if we have laid the groundwork of some kind of caring relationship with this other person.
    For example: let’s say that you, a newcomer to my f-list, feel that I am doing something I shouldn’t. Now, you certainly could say something. You may even feel that you have to say something. But what are the odds that I will listen? Frankly, they’re not huge. Why? Because I don’t know you, so I don’t have any clue where you’re coming from. Also, it would be easy for me to say, you don’t know me, so you don’t know where I’m coming from. I’m not going to be inclined to give much weight to advice you give me because we don’t have any kind of a relationship at this point.
    Now. Let’s say that…oh, I’ll pick on Ruth… sees something I’m doing and is moved to tell me I need to cut it out. I may be just as disgruntled at her bringing it up, but I’m going to be more inclined to listen and hear her out because I’ve known her for a long time; there’s a good history behind us of mutual understanding and respect.
    And I think this is where, again, I start being leery whenever I hear anyone loudly yelling about anything. I could certainly look at Christianity and say that there are things lacking. I could look at any number of people/entities and use my judgement and immediately jump in to fix. But that is equally likely to backfire. Instead, what I must do is resolve to work on my own self first and do my homework in building relationships and caring for people around me before I start telling them what to do.
    Not, mind, that I’m trying to argue with you or say you are not doing these things. I’m trying to explain my viewpoint a bit better, not gainsay you.

  • breckinwood says:

    Yep, I’d totally agree with you there.
    I think I had more in mind some obvious, glaring examples. Like this: We’ve got this guy in our city who stands on the street corner and hands out Christian tracts to people as they walk by. If you don’t take one, he starts loudly, publicly embarassing you, telling you it’s your last chance, and you are going straight to hell. I could say to him, though I don’t know him, “You aren’t showing the love of Christ.” He doesn’t know my heart, or that I already do profess faith, and yet he is telling me I am going to hell. He is condemning the work God is doing in me.
    And he probably won’t listen, true, because he doesn’t know me. He probably wouldn’t if he did know me. But it would be ok to say something.
    Or, we could look at some of the churches out there who say they are Christian, and live according to their faith, but their faith is so warped that they use prostitution as a ministry tool, or hurt their children.
    Or there are churches like Fred Phelp’s church where the people picket soldier’s funerals, and are incredibly cruel to the lost “in the name of Christ.” To say to groups and their adherents like these that their walk is bringing disrepute on the name of Christ would not be out of the bounds of Christian propriety and love. Some may listen and repent. At the very least, by saying something, we’ve cleared our consciences, and we’ve distanced ourselves from evil perpetrated in the name of God.
    Then, I know women in our neighborhood who profess to love Jesus, have the WWJD bumperstickers on their car, but every chance they get they are sleeping with another guy, cussing, and acting vulgar. If they want to talk to me about their faith, I might have a thing or two to say about it, too. Faith without works is dead.
    And I totally agree with you about working to get the plank out of my own eye before seeking to help someone else. But that’s the key- work on getting it out, and then help. The helping is still there. And by working on my own sin, I will have hopefully learned a great deal of humility and patience, because weeding out sin is a painful, humbling, time-consuming experience.

  • DT says:

    Those two questions were meant to be rhetorical– which I guess doesn’t trasnslate well in LJ-land.
    My point was, we each need to examine our faith and who we think God is in light of Scripture. If what we are calling faith doesn’t match what He calls faith, and if who we worship doesn’t match Who He claims to be, then our faith is futile.
    And yes, we are called towards unity. This unity is also supposed to extend to coming into full agreement about exactly what the relationship He has called us into looks like. And i know that you and i do not agree here on some key points.
    Unfortunately, “agreeing to disagree” has always grated, and in fact seemed contrary to Christ’s teachings to me.
    My prayer is that all who are called by Him may come to a fullness of the Truth– myself included.

  • DT says:

    I see this in a lot of relationships, though, and I think too much of it can be traced to the fact that people are enamoured with romance, not true love.
    Too right. We confuse philos or eros when Chist is saying “agape.” It was a whole new application of that word when He used it. Every sinner understands eros and philos– lust and brotherly love and affection. These are human love.
    But Jesus wants us to love like God can you believe it???
    And the only way we can know that Love is if He loves through us. We can’t just work that one up on our own.

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