One of the most despicable practices that has unintentionally surfaced in organized Christianity is the propensity for a certain kind of complacency to seep into the lives of many believers which becomes what I’ll call “The us and them syndrome.” It’s a rather polemic attitude that evolves over time when new believers eventually become firmly ensconced as members in a local congregation. Eventually they become steeped in friendships formed in their group along with all the trivial customs and trite cliches that come with church life. With that there is a desire to hang out with like minded people and to shun those who don’t share the same beliefs. This is not just typical of Christians but is universally typical of all human beings everywhere. However what is most insidious about it is when they begin to think of “us the saved and them the sinners.”
Forgetting their own roots and how they themselves had previously run from those “bible thumpers” and avoided churches as unbelievers wallowing in self-righteous delusions and ignorance.
True Christian believers are excited about Jesus and are quick to share their beliefs with unbelievers whenever the opportunity arises, they rightly see themselves as sinners who have been saved by the love of Christ.
Nominal Christians, that is those who are Christian in name only, prefer to keep their beliefs to themselves and associate only with their own kind, most often see themselves not as sinners but as those in diametric opposition to sinners, a class of persons they prefer to avoid. These are the ones that commonly shun their long time friends when they hear that they have been stricken with cancer or some other debilitating and deadly disease. In the following verses we can clearly see what Jesus considers an abominable attitude that these types hold.
(Mark 2:15- 17) And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(Luke 11:23) Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”
Sadly there are many who are scatterers, if not by outright commission, then by omission which is equally egregious. What about those people in our society who are simply just different, street people who are homeless, prostitutes, homosexuals or transsexuals and others who for various reasons may ascribe to some confusingly different life style? Are they any more a sinner than those who are Christian? Human beings tend to judge others by assigning varying degrees of grey to blackness in how they view the differences and failings of other’s lives when in reality in God’s mind any sin is deadly and the only release we have from condemnation is through acknowledging it and leaning on Christ as God’s answer to the problem. Jesus called this out, consider now that the scribes and Pharisees of his day were the same as the nominal Christians of today as you read the following.
(Matthew 23:15) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” And again in (vs 25 - 28)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
People go to great lengths to fit into the societal dictates for men and women, sadly those who don’t fit are shunned, but times are changing with the advent of the information age, the Internet and the twenty-four news cycle. That which was formerly not commonplace now is and those who claim to be true believers see it as an opportunity to reach out and welcome those who appear different and sinners in need of Christ just like themselves. Those who refuse to change will no doubt remain scatterers alienating many from the joys of knowing the love of Christ.
(Matthew 7: 1 - 5) “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (vs 21 - 23) “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’