Sunday, June 19, 2011

Apologizing for Hypocrisy

I used to think I had all the answers to just about everything in life, and I was quick to tell others those answers.  Difficult circumstances? Turn to God for comfort!  Marriage troubles? Obey the Bible's guidance for husbands and wives--love and respect and submit and all that!  Homosexuality? No, marriage is only for one man and one woman!  Abortion?  Murder in all circumstances!  Politics? Republican!  Science? Genesis!  And so forth and so on.

The problem with having a seismic shift in your religious beliefs is that you start to feel like an ass for how you've behaved in years past. Even though most of my attempts to win converts to my way of thinking were well-intentioned, I'm embarrassed and ashamed of many things I've said and written to other people.  Granted, I was operating under a genuine belief that if I loved people, I needed to do everything to see them get "saved." This entailed trying to win them to the faith through sound arguments and living in such a way that they would see that itty-bitty inkling of hope within me. Then the Holy Spirit would tip them over the edge of unbelief and into the arms of a loving God.  Or so I hoped.

The trouble is that I was not happy or completely satisfied with the very answers I was giving to everyone else.  I never presented the gospel as: "Believe in Jesus and then your life will be just peachy!" I know I was upfront with the "Life will still be very difficult" caveat. Still, I was naive and rather out-of-touch with how my message was being perceived by a lot of people. If they raised arguments, I could crush them. If they still wavered in doubt, I could convince them.  If they stubbornly insisted on holding to their sinful lives, I could condemn them.

Oh, silly, silly, sinful me. Can I take all of that back?  Can I apologize for my hypocrisy?  I know better now.  I really do.  I know I don't know much about anything. I don't have this figured out. I know now that no matter how one's life may appear to other people, other people never know the whole story. I didn't know their stories or their experiences. I presumed a great deal.  And for that, I'm sorry.