Tag Archives: hypocrisy

Being Herod: Part 2

Months down the line, my young cousin unknowingly enrolled into the same university as my big sister. They bumped into each other one day as they were heading to their respective classes. Boy was she gobsmacked! They had not thought we could afford being in such a prestigious institution.

I suppose that’s why we are told to think the best of others. Clearly she went home and told her mother, who was not so pleased about it because she stopped making her routine calls in a futile attempt to figure out what we were up to.

Couple of years later, she called my sister one evening, asking for directions to our house because she and my cousin were ‘in the neighbourhood’, and wanted to say hi. Obviously we figured they had purposed to visit because our homes are numerous miles apart.

Given that they had not visited in close to five years, when they came they found we had done a couple of renovations, replaced most of the furniture. Unknown to her, my big sister had been doing some research job, which was bringing in some good money.

I don’t know what they expected to find…maybe they had thought we were living in deplorable conditions since they had not heard from us for a long time; and, members of my family are known to brag when they are making achievements in life…rubbing it in people’s faces.

They only stayed for twenty minutes tops, and each of those passing minutes was characterized by forced smiles, fake giggles…feigned pleasantries…but for the most part, it felt like we had just sat through an impromptu interview: what have you been doing? Are you guys dating? And judging by my aunt’s facial reactions, all our answers rubbed her off the wrong way…

We were not rude to them…nor were we snobbish or anything of the sort. However, it was unmistakably clear; all the raw disdain patent on her face. She had thought we were suffering, but to her utter dismay, we were actually doing alright. The one thing she had dreaded all through.

Since my aunt paid us that unannounced visit, she dropped her charade about loving us to bits and all. To her we were adversaries, who should be plunged into the chasm of desolation. All ties with us were unofficially severed, and it’s not until recently we bumped into her at my uncle’s wake. Even then, she was unable to mask her displeasure with us behind her characteristic ‘charming’ façade.

As usual, our conversation with her was more like an interrogation: whether we finished school; whether we found jobs; were we dating… To a third party, those questions might feel relatively harmless. Nonetheless, in this case, they are usually meant to gauge how my sisters and I are doing, and whether we are doing better than her children.

I can bet all my money she would sabotage us if she knew how. The way I see it, my aunt and people of her ilk are no different from the Biblical King Herod; people who use their power and influence to cripple others; people who would go to the ends of the earth to ensure others’ downfall.

As this year was starting, a recently ordained deacon in our church gave a beautiful homily. “In this new year, do not be someone’s Herod”, he said. “Do not do things or make omissions that will put others at a disadvantage. For instance, if you know someone who’s struggling with alcoholism, do not buy them alcohol, lest you’re faulted for derailing them. Build other people, inspire them”,

He went on to preach about the Magi. King Herod had instructed them to go back to him with news of the whereabouts of the new-born child once they saw him. No one would have guessed what his intentions were…but deep down he wanted to kill the baby, afraid he would dethrone him.

Our human nature predisposes us to the green-eyed monster; to envy. If we’re not too careful we get carried away and act on it, hurting the people we are envious of. We are called to be like the three Wise men. Once they saw the Star of Bethlehem, they did not go back the same way they had come. They used a different route. This is symbolic of people not sinning once they accept Jesus Christ.

Like the deacon preached, we should all aspire to build others, not destroy; our religious affiliations notwithstanding. If we are offering to assist others, let it be the type of help that arises from compassion; from empathy.

There is really no need of helping a hungry person with food, in the hope that the same food will kill them or incapacitate them. People can do without such kind of help. If the desire to help a person does not stem from love, do not do it.

Being Herod: Part 1

Sometimes we come across people who seem so kind and caring…they offer to help us out of whatever predicament we might be going through. However, unknown to us, their assistance/good deeds are nothing more than a ploy to set a greater stage for our downfall.

A story is told about a king, who sought to dim a newly born child’s dreams. He wanted to have the baby killed because he knew the baby was destined to become king; and that, made him pretty apprehensive. Kinda reminds me of some male animals, which kill young ones of their kind, as a way of taking out competition for the role of the pack/pride leader in future.

King Herod and the three Wise men

Personally, I have met such people who pretend to help someone out but it is never with good intentions. For instance, I have this aunt, who for the longest time, when my sisters and I were growing up seemed to have our best interests at heart. I remember this one time when we were struggling financially. My mom was unemployed and she offered to help her get a job.

Eventually she got her a temporary job at their office; one my mom would not have taken under normal circumstances, but which at the time felt better than staying home penniless, and at the mercy of my stingy dad. Needless to say, my mom was grateful for the job.

After high school, my big sister took a short business course in college, while waiting admission into university because at the time my dad said he did not have money to pay her tuition fees. My aunt was quick to jump to her rescue. She offered to find her a data collection job in one of those neighbourhoods where a caring parent would not let their daughter set foot in, for fear they could get mugged or raped…

My sister was so desperate to get a job, but after taking everything into consideration, we figured her going to collect research data in an unsafe neighbourhood was extremely risky, thus worse than her staying home. Subsequently, she turned down the job.

Over the years, my aunt tried getting us jobs, all of them relatively modest. We did not think much about it until much later when her own children, who are slightly younger than us, finished high school. Whether it was just their good luck or not, I cannot say for sure…but her connections got them very good jobs. When we realized she was deliberately trying to put us in a situation where we would not be more successful than her children, we started avoiding her.

Eager to keep tabs on us, she would call often to find out what we were doing…and we, having figured her out, would withhold all the pertinent information. However, as the saying goes, ‘A team is only as strong as its weakest link”, my dad, who tends to be a loose cannon when inebriated would call her, giving her every intricate detail about us. That is how, my aunt has managed to stay informed about us over the years.

We did not know what dad was doing behind our backs, until my aunt started calling, gloating about how privy she was to our personal affairs, courtesy of dad. Consequently, we started withholding personal information from him since we knew he would share it with anyone who asked. It is even worse that generally my sisters and I are very private people. We felt unsafe, knowing dad was our weakest link.

Like we had imagined, once we stopped briefing dad on our progress in school (we are not very tight with him therefore we don’t share much with him regarding our social lives), everyone was submerged in the dark, such that whoever wanted to know what we were doing would have to find out from us.

Still, we did not want to come off as unfriendly, so if my aunt invited us over to her place we would decline politely, citing financial hardship or any reason that would sound believable. The thought of our constant impecunious state seemed to bring her great comfort and as such, she wouldn’t insist. The less we had, the more she loved us…

Villains in our midst

Villains in our midst

One thing I’ve gathered from all the TV shows I’ve watched: movies, soaps, cartoons and all, is that at least in every story there must be antagonists and protagonists. Pick any Walt Disney favourite for instance…

Cinderella has her step mother and the two step sisters, who darken her days perpetually; Rapunzel has that witchy ‘mother’- the abductor who always claims to love and know what’s best for the golden haired maiden; in 101 Dalmatians there’s Cruella, who tries rounding up all the dotted hounds so she can make herself a fur coat from their beautiful white furs with strewn black spots…

In short, for the story’s protagonist to have that happily ever after, there must the grand fall of the antagonist; a very celebrated thing in most cases. These stories however, are not the kind I want to delve into today. I’m thinking more along the lines of the I-want-to-take-over-the-world kind of villains.

One thing I’m always wondering is why some people are so obsessed with ruling the world. This desire is apparently so strong that one would practically do anything to get hold of that power. The so called villains-of-the-piece will do everything from having the crown prince (ss) abducted in a usually half-baked attempt to sabotage their chances of inheriting the throne when the reigning king/queen dies, to assassinating all those who stand in their way. It’s never pretty, really.

Someone would be utterly mistaken to think this kind of scheming is only a fiction of scriptwriters’ imagination. These ploys are best seen in real life stories where for instance, someone wants to assume a certain political position and there are too many candidates running for the post; or in companies where one wants to sit at the helm and the seat’s already occupied.

Sometimes, one finds themselves starring at one of the most inconceivable machinations and it becomes even more complex to fathom how a person, deemed a saint in the making by all and sundry, turns out to be the villain.

During these past few weeks I’ve been made privy to one of the worst kinds of rumours; I only choose to call them that because even though bits of the story have been confirmed, some still remain unconfirmed and I know it’s only a matter of time before everything comes to light.

As it turns out, even the most unlikely of persons could turn out to be the villains. In this case, both the antagonist and protagonist are respected men of the cloth. The characters, who I will name A and B respectively, are caught up in a war-not a fist fight though.

The issue apparently is that A, who is B’s assistant, has been conspiring with some spiteful faithful to ‘dethrone’ B, who heads the parish. In his attempt to sink B, A together with his minions fabricated all sorts of allegations so B would be banished from the church.

As I’ve already pointed out, A wants to be the one heading the parish. The few faithful on the other hand, are displeased with B because he’s so strict and won’t let anyone embezzle church funds. Talk about suffering for doing the right thing. Some of the allegations I’ve heard raised against him are just downright false and I pray that with time every truth will be revealed.

This story has had me thinking a lot. First of all, one would imagine that anyone who has spent years in theology school, learning how to be a “fisher of men” would have the will power to restrain from tarnishing his fellow priest’s name.

I speak of will power because I know every human being is prone to sin ergo no one is perfect. However, one would imagine that the solemn vows made, to serve God above all else would strengthen one’s desire to do all that pleases Him; just like in marriages, what keeps a couple grounded are those vows taken: to love and cherish each other…for better or worse.

I feel we have become our own worst enemies. We persecute our fellow Christians (in light of the example above) and still lament how the world is filled with evil. Our systems on the other hand, are so corrupt that an aggrieved person can’t even seek justice; and so accustomed have we grown to that life of lies and defrauding that when a clean and pure heart tries to uproot that evil, nipping it from the bud, we turn against them.

We’ve been awfully enshrouded in darkness that we perceive the good guys as the bad guys and instead of plucking the wolves from our midst we sacrifice the innocent sheep. That’s the harsh reality of what the world has turned into; blameless victims rot behind bars while the actual culprits walk the streets in broad day light, carefree; without an ounce of guilt to cloud their seemingly bright days.

The passion of Christ springs to mind; the part where the Jews asked for Barabbas to be released from prison when he was actually guilty and for Jesus to be killed (Matthew 27: 17-26). We are those people. We asphyxiate truth and justice and eagerly embrace ally kinds of evil that a real Christian would frown upon.

Jesus said some pagans are better than believers, because –in my understanding- the latter are just impenitent reprobates hiding behind the Bible; and I couldn’t agree more.

Sadly, we fail to realize that God is ever just. He vindicates those who follow His ways and brings their foes to their knees, and what’s more, we can build or destroy with our words and deeds; the choice is ours. And as we know, each decision has a consequence.

 

How to deal with non-believers

united-seeing past differences

I’ve never understood why, but some Christians treat all non-believers like they’re sinners and will therefore go to hell. Well here are a few words of enlightenment: be wise in the way you act towards those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone (Colossians 4: 5-6).

Sometimes I come across Christians who say they are saved, but the things they do/say leave me with so many doubts about their salvation. In many of my posts, I’ve talked about the issue of judging others; acting all self-righteous and all. What makes me question someone’s idea of salvation is not because I feel I’m a better Christian, but because I wonder, if I wasn’t really a believer already, how many of the Christians I’ve met would convince me to give my life to Christ?

From what I have gathered over time, everyone has a justified reason as to why they do/don’t profess a certain faith. If someone is a non-believer, does that mean they will automatically be damned to hell on judgement day? Not really. In any case Jesus believed that some pagans are better than those who call themselves believers.

Some of us feel like they are warranted to condemn others because they are believers and in their eyes, those who don’t believe in God are sinners. According to many Bible verses, God hates self-righteousness. In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus told a parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else:

“Once there were two men who went up to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like the tax collector over there. I fast two days a week and give you a tenth of all my income.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his head to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’

I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great.”

So when a believer shouts, “You will go to hell!” to a non-believer, what does one suppose God thinks of that believer? It is not our place to condemn. Only an ignorant person would assume that all those who don’t believe in God will be damned.

In his letter to the Colossians 2: 16-19, Paul says, “So let no one make rules about what you eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon festival or the Sabbath. All such things are only a shadow of things in the future; the reality is Christ. Do not allow yourselves to be condemned by anyone who claims to be superior because of special visions and who insists on false humility and the worship of angels.

For no reason at all, such a person is all puffed up by his human way of thinking and has stopped holding on to Christ, who is the head of the body.”

Identifying ourselves as Christians, makes us believe we know exactly what’s wrong; who is right or not, but the truth is, only God knows who is guilty/innocent. If a believer assumes that a neighbour who doesn’t go to church has already booked a ticket to hell, then one ought to know that those we condemn might actually be the ones who are actually right in the eyes of God.

In Proverbs 16: 2, King Solomon says, “You may think everything you do is right, but the Lord judges your motives.” So it really doesn’t matter if one spends all their time in church praying, fasting and tithing religiously every month.

Jesus condemns hypocrisy. In Matthew 23: 23-27, He says, “How terrible of you teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the law, such as justice and mercy and honesty.

These you should practice without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel! How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness. Blind Pharisees!

Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too! How terrible for you, teachers of law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside. In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.”

In very simple words, Jesus is the holiest man, who has ever walked this earth, yet He didn’t go around castigating those who didn’t believe in Him/His Father. He loved everyone, without discriminating and used the best examples to inspire love for His Father and not fear in people’s hearts. So if He didn’t despise, why should we?

If Jesus popped in on a conversation between you-a Christian-and a non-believer, would He be proud of you, or would He unleash the ‘hypocrite!’ admonishment on you? If you were a non-believer, would a Christian doing the things you do, both in public and in private, convince you to join the faith?