Dirty Hands or Clean Hearts
When Clarence Jordan was a small child, he lived within 100 yards of the Talbot County Jail in Georgia. One hot summer night during a revival meeting Jordan was looking at the warden of the Jail’s Chain Gang and noted how carried away he became while singing, “Love Lifted Me.” Jordan was inspired by how deeply the spiritual atmosphere impacted this man. However, later that same night, Jordan was awakened by the agonizing groans and screams coming from the direction of the chain gang camp. He knew what was happening. Someone was being placed on the “Stretcher.” He was being tortured. He also knew that only one person could be responsible for this torture and it was the same man who had been singing “Love Lifted Me” with great emotion only a few hours before.
This realization tore at Clarence’s heart. He identified with the man who was in agony and as a result became angry with the church as he understood it. He did not reject his faith or launch a protest. Instead, he stuffed his anger deep down inside until such time as he could make a difference, which he certainly did in writing the Cotton Patch Versions of the New Testament and founding Koinonia Farms…a communal, interracial farm designed to help especially the down and out.
You and I may be able to relate to Jordan’s anger. And so can Jesus. To Jesus, there was no one more repulsive than the person who loves religion but hates people. And we all know that happens sometimes. Religion is the perfect place to hide a heart that is filled with condemnation and hatred. Some may even use their religion as a weapon against those they despise or fear or do not understand. The word that Jesus uses for this kind of attitude and activity is “Hypocrite.”
To truly be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul strength and mind. And we must love our neighbor as ourselves. If either end of this equation is missing then our faith is incomplete. Let us all resist the urge to hypocrisy. Let us live our lives in love.
Tim Hobbs, Pastor