I work with a lady who says she is a Christian. She goes to church, sings in the choir, and quotes scriptures. However, I can clearly see her living a sinful life. She is currently sleeping with two married men and already has two children out of wedlock. She borrowed money from her church to buy a car she didn’t need. How do I deal with listening to her quote scriptures and “explain” the Bible when I feel she lives a double life?
- JB fro Halifax. Virginia
The Great Disconnect (Part 1)
I gave a deep sigh as I read your question. Then I nodded my head with understanding as you wonder how to deal with your co-worker. It seems to me that there is a great disconnect these days (at least in the American church) between talking the talk and walking the walk of being a disciple of Jesus. I know people just like the lady you mention.
Why is that? Sin has always existed since Adam and Eve and people have always participated. You and me included. Nothing new there. What is new in the last fifty years is a societal shift in which more behavior (formerly known as sin) is normal and accepted. Society no longer disapproves because we are in moral decline. The church mirrors society rather than challenge it to higher moral ground.
Unfortunately, it’s very likely that this lady honestly does not see the hypocrisy in her life. Rather, if you asked her, she might hit you with the old “God is love” routine (code for God accepts all behaviors and winks and looks the other way) and then she might judge you as being judgmental. More on that in Part 2.
I regretfully blame the church more than the individuals who are living loose on God’s commandments. The church has watered down the gospel and has often made grace cheap. The church has not preached about counting the cost of discipleship. The church has not practiced what it preached. If there is a spiritually shallow church then what do we expect will be the moral depth of society?
None of this answers your question about how to deal with this woman. It’s simply my soapbox explanation about how we got here. Now let’s go on to solutions.
Logs (Part 2)
Any church recognizing our current state of affairs has a very fine line to walk. We are all sinners and the Christian walk is a journey. If we only let in saints, church membership sinks to zero. How does the church hold up God’s standard of holiness while accepting people wherever they are so they can grow into more truth?
For the church’s part I am reminded of Jesus when they brought him the woman caught in adultery. (See John 8) He did so perfectly what we find so difficult. He didn’t condemn yet his own holiness revealed truth. It made the accusers aware of their own hypocrisy. It acknowledged adultery as sin. It reached out to a woman. It made an offer to a higher call: “Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) The more holiness is embraced by the church the more sin will be exposed naturally and easily by contrast. Churches must find a way to do it like Jesus did it and embrace people without compromising truth.
For your part I have a little bit different approach to suggest. How do you personally handle this co-worker’s double-life? We are all familiar with this saying of Jesus: “’Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?...first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’” (Luke 6:41-42)
Am I now simply condemning your judgment of your friend without acknowledging her sloppy lifestyle? No, she is not living as a disciple of Jesus and we don’t need to pretend otherwise. But—if you compare her to yourself (where you are not doing any of the things she is) you come out higher than her. Above her. But what if you compare yourself to Jesus and his righteousness? Then how do you come out? Now you are in the lower position, right?
That approach to viewing others’ lives keeps the right perspective because it nurtures humility. It says, “this person is doing this or that but look at the sin in MY heart. I need grace. Help me Lord!” That is taking the log out of your own eye. Notice how Jesus says that tactic will produce a way to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
As you work with this woman, watch your attitude. Can you stand for truth without conveying to her that you think she is a Christian imposter? When you find yourself slipping into a holier-than-thou attitude, examine your own conscious and if you are like me you will find plenty of logs. Love her, pray for her. Watch closely because then God may open a door so you can clearly take out her specks.