Our Christian Hypocrisy

Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-24-_-_Marriage_at_Cana

By Karen Ho, Yale-NUS ’17 – See bio

My friend put up a Facebook post about how Christians tend to respond to a friend’s situation, as compared to a non-religious person. Many Christians tend to say things like ‘I’ll keep you in prayer’, while a non-religious friend might say ‘Let me know if you need anything.’

My initial response to that was ‘No, that’s not true, we’re supposed to help them practically!’, but the truth is that we tend to simply stick to prayer, and think we’ve done enough. Keeping someone in prayer is an easy way of helping. A friend whose mum is sick? A cousin who needs a job? A sister in Christ facing tough family issues? “I’ll pray for you, darling. Hope everything gets better.” How sincere are we really being? Will our friends in need feel more comforted and helped when we say we’ll pray for them, or when we actually make the time and effort to meet their needs practically?

What did Jesus do when he met a blind man begging to be healed? He healed him. What did Jesus do when they ran out of wine at the wedding? He turned water into wine. What did Jesus do when he saw Simon Peter and Andrew trying to catch fish? He asked them to cast their nets out again, and they caught so much that their nets were on the verge of breaking! What did Jesus do when the 5,000 needed food? He gave thanks, broke bread and they ate their fill.

What did Elisha do when the widow had nothing left in 2 Kings 4? What did Peter do when he came across the lame beggar in Acts 3:6? What did the people of the church do to help their poorer brothers in Acts 4:34?

Matt 25:35-40
‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Romans 15:27 
For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.

A lot of us forget that what Jesus commands as a response to practical needs is, primarily, practical help. What’s the use of seeing people stricken by poverty, illness, disability and tragic family situations, and simply saying you’ll pray for them? Will that comfort them? Does that make them feel loved? Is it a genuine heart of compassion and sympathy we have, or are we just trying to feel better about ourselves?

Thank God for His love that moves people to open organisations, shelters, food programmes, orphanages and more. People who let God’s love flood their heart enough to lead them out of their comfort zones are the ones who display true love. Hey, I’m nowhere near there. I’m also guilty of falling into the Christian laziness. Time is a big factor and also a huge excuse. Letting God’s unconditional, selfless love flood our hearts and spill out into the world is a process that takes more than a lifetime.

Having the love of God means really loving each person like we love our best friends, ourselves, our family. When you truly have a compassionate and understanding heart, it shows in the effort you put in to help people, or just be there for them. Time and energy is something a lot of us can’t afford, though, especially because in this day and age we know a gazillion people; there are too many people to look out for, too many needs to be met even within your social circles, too many things going on, and we can’t attend to them all. So prayer becomes a ‘cheap alternative’.

It should be in everything we do, but not in place of everything we do!

It’s easy to let Jesus be our Saviour – our help in times of need, our blesser, our provider. It’s not easy to make the decision to let Jesus be our Lord and take control over our lives – let Him discipline us, mould us, take us through tough lessons. What’s even harder, though, is the very simple Great Commandment: loving God with all our heart, soul and mind, and loving people as much as we love ourselves. It’s hard to let Him change the way we feel about people, to let Him shape our hearts to love everyone equally, and equally tremendously.

We try to adopt the love of Jesus, but it’s not just about obligatory actions. It’s about a heart that is moved by others’ situations; one that’s moved enough to want to do all you can for them.

I’m nowhere near that kind of love, and I hope more of us realise that we’re nowhere near it, never finished with that job.

19 comments

  1. -

    AMEN SISTA! 😀

  2. Lee Heng Wing

    Yes, Karen, agreed, indeed the Christian’s relationship with Jesus is to have a practical expression as aptly said in James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.”

    What you pointed out can be so true that we can neglect the tangible follow-through of our words. I must also say that my recent experience has been most encouraging and affirming – I recently experienced some sadness and loss at the family level, those whom we shared with both prayed for my family and immediately 3 couples offered to cover whatever expenses was needed.

    As Christians, we are not perfect, just forgiven. We are simply growing to be more like Christ by His help. We are all on this journey.

    • Karen Ho

      That’s great! Hopefully we keep on remembering to display His love practically. Works are the fruit of our faith, the outflow of Jesus’s love. All the best!

  3. There’s nothing wrong with keeping people in prayer, especially when we don’t have the resources to he;p them practically. Sometimes, there are times when we can’t help those people in need directly and what better way to help them than to pray for them?

    • Karen Ho

      Defintely! As I said in the post, ‘It should be in everything we do, but not in place of everything we do!’ 🙂

  4. Second Mouse

    Christians in Singapore are certainly not passive when it comes to demanding the criminalisation of homosexuals. Perhaps the first step towards being more “loving” is to stop demonising and degrading an entire population of individuals who haven’t done a single thing to you.

    • Karen Ho

      I definitely don’t think the majority of Christians are “demanding the criminalisation of homosexuals” – that’s just a wrong statement on so many levels but let’s not go into it – and I definitely fully agree with your second sentence!

    • Marcus

      Hmmm, are you the same “Second Mouse” who feels the overwhelming compulsion to comment on every Yale-NUS related article over at the Yale Daily News, and who takes every conceivable opportunity to call Singapore a “homophobic cesspool”?

  5. Much more appropriate

    Uh, it would be much more appropriate to write in a more neutral tone and address religion as a whole versus taking the opportunity to advance your own religion. This is a Liberal Arts college, not your Sunday Bible Class.

    • Karen Ho

      It’s a ‘thought space’; I’m not evangelising or anything – in fact it’s not even a positive statement I’m making about my community – it’s my personal issue with myself and the group of people to which I belong, and I think making it more general would’ve been less honest and sincere 🙂

      • Much more appropriate

        Since you mention that it’s a ‘thought space’ and it’s a ‘personal issue’, I would suggest you take it to your personal blog or your your Facebook notes to express yourself. This site is meant to be, as I understand it, a “student-driven intellectual exercise” — I find your article (as are many other articles on this site) hardly intellectual or thought-provoking.

        Maybe because I am not from the “community” you speak of, which is why the contents of the article hold little meaning to me (and for others not from your community also, I suspect). I have no qualms about Christianity or any other religion for that matter, but in the spirit of Liberal Arts and Intellectual Exercise, it is much more honest and true to discuss Religion as a broad concept instead of referring back to your religious texts and your religious figure.

        P.S. I am glad my comment got published, which earned this site a little of my respect. 🙂

  6. Karen Ho

    Not really. 🙂 ‘Intellectual’ posts don’t all have to sound dry and technical – they wouldn’t accurately encompass and reflect the mind and thoughts of the average 18-to-22-year-old Yale-NUS student; this blog is a student community page where we post about what we think about, what we love or what makes us tick, whether it’s about music, movies, philosophy or travelling; whether in the form of creative prose, riddles or a monologue. I think the freedom of posting whatever we’re thinking about makes this page colourful, genuine, personal and relatable, like a warm community should be. In the spirit of the liberal arts, I’d say the specific topics addressed by each individual, whether focused on a single religion, culture, artist or type of food, come together to create a colourful collage, displaying the true beauty and diversity of knowledge.

    Regarding your second comment – I think it might not be published yet – I’m not going to bother addressing it, because I’ve come to learn that there’s no point discussing theology with a 1) non-Christian 2) stranger 3) online. Hope you don’t mind!

    • Much More Appropriate

      If, in your view, anything and everything in the mind and thoughts of an average 18-to-22-year old — even personal stuff — should be allowed to “come together” and “create a colourful collage” because this is an INTELLECTUAL and LIBERAL ARTS platform… then STOMP, by your definition, is a “liberal arts” blog. It is an “intellectual exercise” for the Singapore community, a place where Singaporeans can post what they think about, what they love and what makes them tick. Perhaps a suggestion to improve this space would be to add ratings such as “LOL”, “Cute”, “Shiok”, “Fail” etc, it would make this blog much more colourful, genuine, personal and relatable.

      I have to give to you guys though, your command of English is good. 🙂 But is liberal arts and intellectual stuff all about good language and nothing to do with content?

    • Chai Zhuo Ning

      Hi 🙂 🙂

      This is the first time that I have felt compelled to leave a comment. I loved this blog on first read and I love that this is a platform to share on any topic of interest. This freedom is the future of media and communication. I love this spirit of talking about anything and everything and yet also having maturity in your thoughts. I hope you see how much of a treasure this is and cherish it. 🙂

      With regards to “Much More Appropriate” ‘s comment, I would suggest that you could elaborate to the readers a bit of the background behind the verses and explanations. It will deliver the message better. I remember being a non-Christian and not understanding what Christians were talking about because I wasn’t familiar with their context. Therefore I get where “Much More Appropriate” is coming from. Audiences usually want something that they can read and understand. In addition, they want to exercise their opinion and want neutral and ‘factual’ accounts. It is wise to bear in mind that some readers also have prejudices against Christians. Don’t be discouraged by what they say about wanting you to be “neutral” 🙂 Being subjective is better than being objective. Not being able to understand Christians is frustrating and annoying to them, but there are many more readers who want to read about your religion and your opinion than reading about religion in general. Perhaps you can rise up in providing more background info when you share your revelations 🙂 It will help in your delivery. It won’t be easy. Although this is merely a blog post and you also don’t owe the readers anything, it will be a good practice to adopt.

      Being only a 3-year-old first generation Christian, I notice a lot of hypocrisy in Christianity and these often become stumbling blocks to me. Perhaps growing up as a Christian or being around Christians makes us less aware about the difference with how worldly people think, but I know that my worldly friends and church friends talk to me and encourage me very differently. As a resolution, I take the best of both worlds and ensure that I am a different example to worldly people and to Christians. Knowing that we are not perfect, I don’t judge myself or others.

      It is important to adopt a thinking mindset in Christ. My Pastor always emphasises, “Christianity is the renewal of mind, not the removal of mind.” Although I am not sinless, I would like to thank you for sharing your revelations on the difference in encouragements between worldly people and Christians. 🙂

      I love posts about God. Hope you don’t think that discussing theology with online strangers is no good. You can get this chance to spread the Good News 🙂

      • Karen Ho

        Yeah, that’s very true. Thanks so much for the reminder! I’ll keep that in mind in the future; hopefully I’ll have enough space on the blog to keep everyone included without making the post too draggy and long-winded, haha. I’ve only been a Christian less than five years myself, and have had a lot of inner struggles, trying to come to terms with certain things and questioning a lot, too. It’s never an easy journey, but through the struggles we find reconciliations that make your roots in Christ even stronger. All the best! 🙂

    • Michael

      Hi Karen,

      I did not find your post evangelical. I do think that ‘Much more appropriate’ has a point though – the tone towards the end of your article did sound slightly preachy and vague. I am wonder the ‘we’ and ‘us’ throughout the article and distinguishing of your friend at the beginning of the article wrapped the tone into a Christian-to-Christian article. I think the writing could have been a bit sharper and carry more weight in offering different perspectives, as a Christian, in third person, as a non-religious, as a female…etc (not exhaustive, just ideas). It seemed preachy because ‘we’, in reference to Christians, incited the reader to feel that they were Christian as well. I am a cradle Roman Catholic who went from being a highly involved church goer and ministry member to a person who struggles to accept the concept of a higher power – my point being that I think I see both sides to what’s going on in the discussion here and I think both are fair. I just think that in the next writing involving religion, it would be good to consider the tone with more care, not in the spirit of censorship but in the willingness to be more engaging with viewers of different belief systems.

      I still very much love reading about cultures and religions and I think it is wonderful to have a diverse array of opinions. I appreciate that your post today highlighted the hypocrisy of using ‘prayer’ as a solution and that a call for more practical actions is needed. At the same time, Christians believe that prayer is one form of a solution. That belief and faith that prayer is as concrete as a direct remedy to a problem is intrinsic to the religion. I think offering a bit of perspective on why that becomes important to Christians is also valuable in a mature discussion of Christianity.

      I think it would be great, if you’re interested, to continue to explore the issues of almsgiving and charitable work in relation to religions, not just Christianity, but including other religions as well. I’ve always wondered if religions, while the cause for much social hardship and segregation and the very existence of holy wars, also have an upside in that that blind faith that carries and moves people also results in a surmountable and substantial amount of good that does impact the larger community of humans on this earth. I always find myself rolling my eyes at the number of religious mission trips made to build a drain that is somewhat sustainable in another country, only to hear that a few years later the village had to abandon the drain. At the same time I am heartened to see students from mission schools spending their school holidays helping to tend to shelters and one room flats in Singapore. Sure, this is no different from CIP in a secular, government school, but I wonder if an objective analysis and comparison can be made to see the costs and benefits of both, for the purposes of insight and intellectual exercise.

      Keep writing. 🙂

  7. Michael

    Also, apologies, I did not read through the post a second time. The grammar and spelling errors… Sigh.

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