Snakes, Vipers, Hypocrites

I’ve been feeling pretty guilty because I’m not sure I had the right to be so harsh on Harold Camping in Saturday’s post.  If I make a public mistake, and perhaps I will someday, would I want the world – especially my fellow Christians – to jump down my throat?  Of course not.  I would want grace…therefore grace is what I probably should have extended to Mr. Camping.  (Remember the Second Commandment?)  But that, also, makes me uneasy.

Apparently, Camping has made previous predictions about the rapture and the end of the world.  So why does he keep trying, and is he even sincere?  Whatever he might say, among his motives are likely publicity and the power to control people.  If this is the case, his behavior is no longer unfortunate and innocent, but a deliberate attempt to draw attention to himself and mislead others.

Does this sound familiar?

Jesus consistently criticized the Pharisees for their self-centered behavior and controlling nature.  “When you pray… when you fast… when you give alms… don’t do it as the hypocrites do….”  Jesus was referring to the Pharisees in these passages from the Sermon on the Mount (although there are many other, similar Scriptures in the Gospels), because they did all of these things in a manner that drew attention to themselves instead pointing people to God.

Thus, God-in-the-flesh heaped criticism and nasty names, such as snakes, vipers and hypocrites on the Pharisees, who sometimes unwittingly, often deliberately misled the Jewish people.  Rather than point people to God, they placed a heavy burden on the people with their self-righteous traditions and interpretations of Old Testament law.  How could they describe what God is like, when they didn’t even know Him?  According to Jesus, their father was the devil himself.

As Christians, we need to live in such a way as to make God proud.  In the Gospels, there are several occasions where God the Father literally called down from heaven with a proclamation of praise for His Son Jesus, such as:  “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (see Matthew 3:17 and 17:5).  The Father was pleased with the attitudes and actions of “His Boy.”

All too often, however, Christians in the public eye make a mockery of our faith by their sometimes absurd and shameless actions.  It is the reason why believers are often made out to look like fools, snobbish jerks, lunatics or hypocrits on TV and the big screen.  Don’t think for a moment these character portraits come from the screenwriters’ imagination…all they have to do is look to real life for their models.  This really makes me angry, not at the screenwriters, but at those persons he/she is using as a template for script character development.

But you know what?  It is not my place to judge the Campings of the world…only to prayerfully observe what they are saying and doing, and align what I see with God’s Word.  Like Jesus with the Pharisees, God will take care of Christian leaders who lead people astray.  I am responsible only for my own attitudes and behavior, to make sure that I am genuinely reflecting the Almighty King, my Lord Jesus Christ.  Heaven help me do just that.

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