I’ve had some interesting conversations recently regarding activities I have participated in that are, seemingly, against my self-professed ideologies. Both my political ideologies and my religious ideologies have come into question or, albeit subtly, it’s been hinted that maybe I’m a hypocrite because of a couple of recent instances, such as:
I’ve proclaimed myself to be a voluntaryist/anarchist/apolitical yet I assist a local judge that coordinates candidate forums by running the sound board and recording the events for her.
I’ve called out the idolatry that has invaded many Churches in America, specifically in regards to “Easter Sunday” services and how egg hunts or prize giveaways have become a focal point in Church marketing materials as a means of filling up the pews yet I play the drums with my Church’s band every year at a local neighborhood’s easter egg hunt the Saturday before Resurrection Sunday.
Is it true that I’m just a big hypocrite (I say “big” because I’ve put on some weight) or is there a logical explanation for it all?
(Spoiler alert: I’m going to type a bunch of words in an effort to convince you that I’m not being a hypocrite at all!)
As a Christian, I’ve come to understand that I must not be of the world but there is no escaping being in the world. That is, we should not be influenced by the world but we should be influencing the world. We aren’t called to shelter ourselves from the world and live in caves or deserts. I am still young in my faith but I understand that I am to know God’s Word so I can know what God’s will is. So I can know what it truly means to love others. So I can test what other’s proclaim in the name of God to what the Word actually says. So I can teach, preach, and rebuke false claims. So I can participate and be effective in the discipleship of the nations.
I’ve also come to understand that influence is not actively spread nor heard by being a hermit to the world. Furthermore, I’ve observed that influence isn’t very effectively spread (as in changing people’s minds and hearts) through passive-aggressive means such as voting for/against things and creating new laws and ordinances.
A question I ask myself everyday, as a Christian, is “How do I effectively reach people for the kingdom?”. I admit, I’m not even close to being the example answer for this question even though I’ve got the answers readily available (i.e – the Bible), but discussing my own depravity will have to wait for another post that will be much longer than this one!
Even before I was a Christian, I always wondered how I could better spread my influence because, as someone who thinks that my ideologies are the bees knees, wouldn’t it be nice to be in a community of similar values/ideologies?
Being present to people and developing personal relationships with them is a more effective means of influencing them than anything else I’ve ever tried. For example (and, to be fair, this is purely anecdotal and personal), I didn’t come to the opinions and views that I hold currently because someone cast a ballot during a voting session. Nor did I develop my ideologies because some committee passed/reformed a new policy in the Church’s book of discipline/laws.
How many of you reading this decided something was “good” or “bad” because of what man’s law/man’s word said? If you’re “for” any given issue, did you immediately change your mind if/when it became prohibited by law? If you’re “against” any given issue, was your mind changed simply because man’s law changed?
I’ll go out on a limb and assume that most of you probably answered both of those questions with a “no”.
My theory is that most people desire rational (or decently reasonable) explanations to change their views on any given issue and an explanation such as “It’s bad because it’s against the law!” isn’t generally accepted by most. I could elaborate on that but I think most get what I’m trying to say.
So, what’s a person to do if they want to effectively spread their influence across their community?
I think the apostle Paul nails it when he writes this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
I admit that I fail often when trying to “become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some”, but Paul’s words are often in my heart.
My participation in an activity such as running the sound board at a candidate debate/forum isn’t a sign of my approval or endorsement of political ideologies that differ from my own. It’s my opportunity to serve and discuss my own ideologies with people who are also (generally) interested in discussing politics. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure I’ve “won” anyone yet into my political ideologies from the discussions we’ve had after these candidate forums but I wouldn’t even have had the chance to share my ideas if I wasn’t present at the event. I also wouldn’t be able to show my willingness to help.
My participation in an activity such as drumming at a neighborhood egg hunt isn’t a sign of my approval or endorsement of the idolatry of “Easter” elements that have nothing to do with the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus. It’s an opportunity to serve in my community and provide a soundtrack of music that is rooted in Biblical truth and to meet/greet/talk with those that live around me who I don’t usually see any other time of the year.
At the end of the day, I (begrudgingly) appreciate being called out because it can serve as unintentional accountability to me. I sort of like the idea that there are people keeping me in line with my professed convictions even if that’s not what their intent is.
While I don’t believe anyone that has ever called me out on anything feels this way, I would hope that if any of my actions ever caused another believer to stumble in their own faith that they would alert me immediately and we could reason with each other from there.
I’m definitely not excusing the reality that I’ve been a hypocrite many times before in my life, but I genuinely don’t believe these recent instances are examples of hypocrisy.
I could be wrong and I’d love to hear what you think.
To clarify, since I get this asked a lot: I don’t believe that allowing your kids to hunt for eggs in a field is inherently evil or wrong. My wife and I have taken our kids to egg hunts and the act of hunting for an egg in a field is pretty harmless. We find harm when it becomes an idol that distracts from the much greater and important truth that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, conquering death and sin for us! If a Church believes that they need to market an egg hunt because they’re trying the old ‘get them in the door and then give them the truth’ type model, I personally feel that it’s silly and borderline “idol-pimping” but that’s also a topic better suited for an article of its own. Paul Washer sums up my thoughts best in this video below