I subscribe to religious news services via e-mail, and recently I read an interesting survey on Americans and the way they view Christians. This survey revealed that almost three-quarters of Americans who have not been to church in the last six months think that the church is "full of hypocrites."
The study noted that even greater numbers of people consider Christianity to be more about organized religion than about loving God and people. Further, almost 44 percent or almost half of those surveyed classified Christians as "getting on their nerves."
Why the results? Obviously some people have had some contact with Christians that are missing the mark! So I have a thought for the year 2013. Why not try to make an impact on those numbers? My mother used to read Hints from Heloise and just as Heloise had hints about household cleaning tips, I have thought of some suggestions to help us change the above statistics. With these, we can do some personal spiritual cleaning up.
Hint Number One: Read the Bible daily. Reading the Bible will straighten out the one who reads it. Obviously, some of us have come across as hypocrites and legalists in regard to the matters of the church. But, the Bible is like a magnifying glass. It can help us see the many flaws in our own lives. I know that I have many flaws and if I concentrate on taking care of those, then I can look at others with more Christ like eyes and be more genuine toward others.
Along with that comes being humble, getting rid of our pride and our feelings of self-sufficiency. When we try to work things out on our own, God is not reflected in our lives because sometimes we use tactics that are far less than godly. Jesus said come to him like a little child. He said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:3) Poor in spirit just means those who recognize their need for God. We can know him by reading our Bible.
Hint Number Two: Pray daily. Jesus was constantly in an attitude of prayer. The thing is that if we pray daily and stay in constant touch with God, then our lives will reflect the fellowship that we have with the Father. That kind of praying gives us an insight on how to be with others and how to treat other people. How can we be hypocritical or legalistic when we stay in a mindset of prayer and are therefore keen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
Hint Number Three: Walk worthily. As Christians we should lead lives that reflect a life dedicated in obedience to Christ. We should walk according to his commands. Jesus gave a two-fold command in regard to inheriting eternal life. It was not only to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength and mind but love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10: 25-28).
What does loving one's neighbor mean? It means a selfless love. That means I don't ignore, criticize gossip about, or react in hateful or callused ways to people. I am not rude, critical, judgmental, or condescending to others. I help people and care for people. I see to other's interests and needs and help carry my neighbor's burdens — I love my neighbor as myself.
Think about it: Read the Bible daily, pray daily and live worthily. Heloise used to talk about "deep cleaning." Maybe each of us could go for some personal deep cleaning in 2013 that will influence eternity.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: