Friday, September 16, 2011

Me? A Hypocrite?

“My name is_______and I am a hypocrite.” Many nonbelievers think every Sunday service should start out with this announcement. They don't realize most attendees are there concentrating on their own transgressions, but  they aren’t as vocal as the ones that cry out “Do this and don’t do that” and then turn around and don’t do that and do this. Shall we say Bad Press?

 I counted myself as among the repentant until one of my devotions cut through my pat perceptions and sent a dagger right into my heart. It accused me of being a hypocrite.

I wanted to shout, "No, not me! Surely you don't mean me!" But, I couldn't. 

The devotion that so cruelly pierced my heart was titled 9/ll and Learning to Forgive by Msgr. Stephen J. Rosetti in Living Faith. Forgive? I had on numerous occasions and I felt smug. I forgave my cranky neighbor, my annoying coworker, and the abusive spouse, but when Msgr. Rosetti pointed out I needed to include the terrorists of 9/ll, my heart stopped. My patriotism cries for vengeance, but God says, “No.”  How many times must I forgive? Seventy time seven. Ouch.

Just forgive and forget? Pretend it never happened? Surely not.  After some prayer and reflection I realized my error. There is a difference between self defense, protecting others, and vengeance. The key is motivation. Is the act carried out from righteous indignation against the perpetrator solely to return hurt for hurt, or does it derive from compassion for the victim and the desire to protect?

In a vision several years ago, Jesus appeared on the cross. Standing behind Him was the person who had nearly taken my life. As I watched, Jesus transposed His face over his. In that moment I forgave completely. I didn’t forget the hurt – or the danger - but I let go of the anger, hatred and the need for retribution.  However, I had not applied this truth to the horrors of 9/ll, or other global atrocities. I didn’t know if I could.

Terrified of not complying with His directive to forgive, and not have my own transgressions forgiven, I dropped to my knees. His gentle voice reminded me of another vision. As He held me in a tight embrace, He whispered how much He loved me - just as I was, imperfect and sinful. It didn't matter how many times I failed - only how hard I tried. Again, it was what was in my heart that mattered. 

And so, I will pray for the conversion of the Muslim nations, pray for God’s solution to the terrorist threat, and pray for our conversion, especially my own, from hate and the desire for vengeance. I will stay vigilant, and careful for the safety of my nation and my family, and will not knowingly allow someone to be hurt, but I will not harbor the desire for revenge, at least I will try. 

I can see His arms, wide open, inviting me and everyone else, into His embrace. This hypocrite is not going to stroll over, or take any side trips. I am going to run straight at Him, dragging anyone else along who is willing. How about you? 

12 comments:

  1. A straightforward post. Your words ring so true for a lot of us. I always enjoy reading your words.

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  2. Thank you, Debra. I know there has been a lot said about 9/11 this week, but this thought just wouldn't leave my heart or mind.

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  3. Such a great post, Ceci. What you wrote about Jesus face reminded of a part of my book. I hope you don't mind that I share it with you.

    In my book, I tell the story of how Leonardo daVinci forgave. While painting the Last Supper, he had a falling out with his assistant for some reason. As daVinci painted the faces of all the disciples, he came to Judas and spitefully painted the face of his assistant.

    He had saved the face of Jesus for last but when he got ready to paint it, he couldn’t. He drew a blank. Then, God spoke to him and told him he must forgive his assistant. So daVinci went to him and begged the man’s forgiveness. The assistant complied.

    When daVinci removed the face of the assistant from Judas and painted an ordinary face, he was then able to paint Jesus, for he then clearly saw His face.

    Love that story!

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  4. Wow. I'm struggling with forgiving 9/11 too. I admit, when I see a man in a turban or a woman in a berka (sp?), I think unkind thoughts, and judge them, even though I don't know them. And though they were not directly involved with the attack on our country, they are of the same faith as the killers—the ones who want Americans, and especially Christians—dead.

    Your post taught me I need to change that. I need to pray for them too, that they will convert to Christianity. And I need to forgive those involved with 9/11.

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  5. Lynn, what a great story.I hadn't heard that about daVinci. Thank you for sharing. I know others would like to read it as well.

    Wow. God can certainly make His point! I will never look at the image of the Last Supper in the same way again. Instead, I will see His face and the cross.

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  6. Lorna it is difficult. My husband and I have had several discussions about it. He agrees not to live in hate, but he does want revenge. I need to pray for him, and others like him, as well. I can't say I have managed to eradicate all ill feelings toward Muslims, that would make me a double hypocrite to say that, but I am trying. And, I understand your feelings when you see a member of that faith. I am uncomfortable too. Working on it.

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  7. That is a tough command to apply, especially in light of terrorists but I do think there is a difference between revenge and justice due enemies. Thanks for the reminder to examine my heart.

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  8. Absolutely...this hypocrite is joining you...so many times I too have been and am a hypocrite
    Thanks for a very pointed and convicting post

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  9. Marcia, it is a subject I have struggled with for sometime. I will continue to struggle with it, I am sure. Some things are very hard to cope with, and 9/11 is certainly a major one. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  10. Thank you, Janette for commenting. Yes, the hypocrite boat is very large and quite crowded. Thankfully the Captain knows what He is doing.

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  11. Wow, what a thought-provoking post!

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  12. Thank you, Laura. It certainly hit me hard. I appreciate you're stopping in and commenting.

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