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Friday, 5 September 2014


There is a well-known story about a man who informed a local minister of the Gospel that he didn't attend church because it was so full of hypocrites.  "Well, then," responded the clergyman, "another one won't be noticed"!

It is always wise, when pointing out the hypocrisy of others, to remember that three time as many fingers are pointing at oneself as are pointing at the other person!

Having said all of that, I was struck by two items that I saw on Facebook earlier this evening.  The first one was from a dear Canadian friend who makes no secret of her humanist sympathies, and her opposition to (at least, organised) religion.  It deals with the well-known American tele-evangelist, Pat Robertson who, it is claimed, read out a letter on his TV show - a letter from an elderly couple. The link informs us that the letter read: "My husband and I are in our 80s and have been tithing for many years. We both love the Lord and give willingly and our tithe is over 10 percent…but we never have an extra penny after our monthly bills are paid. Our old car just broke down and we had to borrow money to fix it. We both need dental work, but we can’t afford it. I constantly have to use our credit card to pay for medical needs… What could we be doing wrong?"  Pat Robertson's response, we are informed, was to suggest that "they sell their belongings on eBay or go back to work. He also told them that God would grant them a blessing if they asked for one. The one thing he didn't tell them is to give a little less of their income to church so that they can take care of themselves."

Now, as an advocate of tithing, and of giving a freewill offering over and above, I am not about to criticise the practice.  In fact, I am convinced that it is at least part of the reason why my wife and I always seem to make ends meet, regardless of circumstances.  As I learned a long time ago, the Lord's mathematics work on a different principle than mine!  However, I have a great deal of sympathy for my friend's only comment: "REALLY!!!"   Mr Robertson's response to this couple might have been better as a cheque towards the expenses that they are encountering - having checked, of course, that the letter is genuine!

A little further on, I came across another post that has to do with 'giving to church'!  This one displays a picture of another well-known figure - Richard Dawkins, the 'high priest' of secular, humanist, atheism.  Across the top of the picture (which is as unflattering as is the one used of Pat Robertson!) are the words: "THINKS PEOPLE GIVING MONEY TO CHURCHES ARE GULLIBLE".  Across the bottom of the picture are the words: "CHARGES $85 A MONTH TO JOIN HIS ONLINE 'REASON CIRCLE'".  This is not the information that any of my humanist friends is likely to disseminate.  Yet why not?  Is not Mr Dawkins being every bit as much a hypocrite as Pat Robertson?  

When it comes to the Christian aspect, I well remember my former minister, spiritual mentor, and friend - and the man who married my dear wife and me to one another, 44 years ago yesterday - saying: "Don't judge the Christians - they will fail; don't judge the church; it will let you down; don't judge the clergy, they are much too fallible.  Judge the Christ - and see if you can justly criticise Him."  That statement still stands.  My personal faith does not depend on my personal achievements - however good they may sometimes be.  It depends wholly, and solely, on the finished work of God Incarnate, at the cross on Calvary, when He paid the punishment that I deserved to pay, in order that I might go free.  He died there for you as well.  Why don't you take Him at His word: "Whoever comes to Me I will never drive away" (Jn.6:37) - that's acceptance; "I will never leave you , nor forsake you." (Heb.13:5) - that's assurance; "... if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am, you may also be." (Jn.14:3) - that's anticipation.

Hypocrites!  Yes, Pat Robertson is one; Richard Dawkins is one; and you and I are in that same league!  Only One stands out in all of history as not having been of that ilk.  Come to Him; know the wonder and joy of sins forgiven; let Him rule in your life.  You'll still make mistakes (see I Jn.1:10), but you will no longer be under condemnation (Rom.8:1), and you will spend eternity in His nearer Presence.

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