A Curious ConsistencyOkay, I’m weird. I see shadows where there aren’t any people. Literally. The visual phenomenon is related to my dyslexia; at times my eyes move involuntarily, causing me to see stuff move when it’s not. When I was a kid lying in bed I’d watch the walls moving in on me, even though I knew solid walls don’t do that. Some might label me delusional—especially when I disagree with them on one of their pet issues.
There are times, however, when my screwy perspective picks up on curious consistencies or connections that may not be obvious to some. And at other times I remain oblivious to the most obvious things; just ask my wife Nancy.
This evening I stepped over to my trusty computer, opened Netflix, and began watching The Dead Zone, a USA Network suspense series based on a story and characters created by Stephen King. One of the characters, a Reverend Gene Purdy played by a sinister- looking middle-aged actor named David Stiers, is a high-profile pastor and Bible college mogul who rides around in a white, stretch limo. Reverend Purdy’s motives seem pure as the driven snow as he provides for protagonist John Smith from John’s mother’s estate that was willed to Purdy’s ministries, but we know different.
“How,” you may wonder, “does this TV series tie in with dyslexia?”
“Indirectly at best,” would be my short answer. But I don’t intend to bless you with keeping the answer short.
As a Baby-Boomer, my constant companion and favorite baby sitter was the one-eyed monster, so I’ve spent way too much time watching TV and movies through the years. In Hollywood’s early years, producers treated men of the cloth with a certain deference. Remember Boys’ Town’s Father Flanagan? More recently, however, clergy-characters are consistently portrayed as wild-eyed idealogues, money-loving charlatans, filthy perverts, or crass capitalists.
My biggest problem with such portrayals isn’t simply the that they exist, but the fact that Christendom seems to have willingly cooperated in earning that seedy reputation. Religious folks, and particularly clergymen, all too often maintain a religious-sounding, holier-than-thou spiel while their private lives are just the opposite. We Christ-followers flippantly excuse our immorality with phrases such as, “Christians are sinners too, but we’re forgiven.”
Poppycock! God’s grace doesn’t work that way. In fact, using His grace as an excuse for sin caused the Apostle Paul to throw a fit(my rough analysis of Romans chapter six). Here are his words: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 ESV)
So, why does today’s unchurched world buy into all the media mud consistently slung at God’s church? Because it has eyes that see our pontifical posturing, noses that sniff out our judgmental attitudes, and ears that pick up our hypocrisy. That highly refined B.S. detector functions so well because most of them are just as hypocritical as church-goers, the difference being that non-religious folks make no claim of preferential treatment by God. Instead, they hope God grades on a curve, so that only worse sinners will go to “The Other Place” when they kick. But tragically, God’s word doesn’t back up that false hope.
How will God reach them with His redemptive love when so many associated with His church consistently deny His power, truth and love by our actions? Tragically, most of us won’t participate in that glorious work, as we are in fact working against Him. By allowing ourselves the luxury of treating others hatefully, and practicing ungodly attitudes while professing faith in God, we have committed the fabled, unforgivable sin mentioned in Scripture. What a shock we’ll experience when we religious blasphemers find ourselves in line with those we condemned, awaiting entry to The Other Place, weeping and grinding our teeth in despair at the curious consistency of our suffering.