When coaches or parents get caught preaching something they don’t practice, their empty excuse is often “do as I say, not as it do.”
Recently, in one of the many examples of the media blowing a hardly-newsworthy story out of proportion, many outlets have questioned the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s claim to be a Christian. Besides being annoyed to be hearing yet another story that doesn’t warrant appearance in the “news,” I’ve found the whole thing to be ridiculous.
Further, I feel the majority of churchgoers would agree with me that being a Christian is about pursuing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not about how the public perceives the validity of the Christian faith.
Ironically, it wasn’t until I heard Bill Maher, creator of the film “Religulous”, and arguably the most famous atheist in the United States, comment on the issue, that I realized just how hypocritical this assertion is. On “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Monday, Maher explained, “I call them the Churchers 8212; these are the people who don’t think [Obama is] a Christian. Two years ago, remember when they were screaming about his Christian minister, Rev. Wright? He was too much of a Christian two years ago, but now they were saying he was actually a secret Muslim. That is one undercover brother.”
Not only has the criticism flipped-flopped, but one Christian comparing the strength of his or her faith to another isn’t following biblical teaching. In fact, it’s directly contrary to the humility Jesus showed us in his time on earth. In the Gospel of John, we learn of the adulterous woman who is to be stoned to death.
Before her penalty is administered, Jesus steps in, saying in verse seven (New American Standard Bible), “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” at which point the crowd dispersed and no stone was thrown.
Christians are called to follow the example of none other than Jesus, the only one who has shown us a perfectly-lived life. We are specifically called not to compare ourselves to other imperfect sinners. Instead, 2 Corinthians 10:17(New International Version) explains, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Although Matthew 12:36 makes it clear that one day we will be responsible for giving an account, we really don’t have a good biblical picture of what that looks like. On the contrary, Romans 8:1(King James Version) explains, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
In other words, all one must do to become a Christian is say, “yes.” One simply must accept and affirm, publicly or privately, the salvation provided to us by the living son of the creator of the universe. That Jesus took on flesh and died to pay the penalty for our inherent condition of sin.
Without detracting from the reporting skills of the mass media or the ability of the American people to make value-based evaluations of character, I’m going to suggest that journalists and the public don’t have sufficient grounds to evaluate the closeness or authenticity of Obama’s relationship with Jesus. If this is, in fact, the case, these hypocrites ought to cease their judgment. After all, as the aforementioned verse in Matthew says, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
John Andrew Willis is a senior Spanish major from Dallas.