I was probably 13 years old when I had my first experience in the inconsistency of Christianity. Upon arriving home from school, my mom sat my sister and me down on the couch and proceeded to explain what was soon to be made public. One of the pastors of our church was found to be in a relationship with a woman in the church that was not his wife.
I was floored! I had a good relationship with this pastor and admired him a great deal and saw him as a spiritual mentor. Without a doubt, I had more regular contact and connection with him than any of the other pastors.
Ironically, I don’t recall having ever questioned whether or not he did it. But rather I questioned, how? How could he do it? Yes, I knew it would have ripples in the church. Yes, I knew it would ruin his home, his wife, his daughter. Yes, I knew there was another woman and her daughter that too would be deeply affected. But I was grieved deeply with the issue of how a Christian, particularly a pastor, can say, teach, and preach one thing… and be ok doing another.
Sadly, I have been let down time after time by spiritual men and women who have guided me spiritually only to find out later in life that the whole thing may have been a ruse. Were they ever spiritual or was the whole thing just a deception, carried out for their own pleasure and position in the community.
Likely each of us know someone, perhaps many who we now know, were living a double standard. Once again, Paul in Romans 2:17-29 addresses his concerns to the Jew particularly, but also to the Gentile.
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Romans 2:17–29.
“A guide of the blind, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes,” could there be a more explicit description than this of the responsibility entrusted to certain select men and women, to care for the most vulnerable in society. To instill truth in them that find themselves in need of guidance and direction, only to be misled by those who don’t even believe or apply these truths to themselves.
In fact, they teach one thing and willfully do another. Paul calls them perhaps the worst, most insulting words in Biblical vocabulary, disgraceful and blasphemers. He further says that one is not a Jew on the outside, but on the inside. And that following the law (in circumcision) is not for the praise of man but is an issue of the heart and spirit.
We too are not Christian on the outside, which we seem far too concerned and consumed with in modern Christianity and church. Trying to convince others, demonstrate for others, maybe even manipulate others into believing we are something we are not.
Paul gets to the core of what God expects from those who profess His name, and it has nothing at all to do with external appearances, and everything to do with internal: our heart and spirit. There is where the real attention ought to be placed and how we avoid any form of spiritual double standard.
Only when we concern ourselves with connecting with Christ in heart and spirit should we ever then consider to be placed in a position where we are entrusted as a “A guide of the blind, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes”. Where are your heart and spirit?
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.