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Who to Believe?

I won’t go into all the gory details, because I don’t want to speak ill of any person. Suffice it to say that events transpired in my church that led to the departure of a respected member, someone who had shown Christ in his/her actions every step of the way. If you’re a Christian, you know the kind of person I’m talking about—he/she is the one that you really respect, that you can just tell His Presence is with him/her. He/she is the one that you can always trust to be honest with you, even when the truth is not what you want to hear. He or she is that person that always speaks respectfully of others, even when in strong disagreement with those others. This was the kind of person that left our church, and in my humble opinion our church is lessened by his/her departure.

This person shared with me his/her account of the events leading up to the departure, well before that departure was ever a possibility. They knew that something was amiss, and months before these events ever came to light, I knew about them. I have no reason not to believe that the information shared with me was anything other than the truth; this person’s character speaks for him/her. Again, this was the kind of person whose integrity and character was borne out in every aspect of their life and their personality. So, here I have one story, from a godly person I trust and can clearly see God’s work in his/her life.

However, others in the church have a very different view of what happened, and their story is very, very different. Not just different as in a few changed details, but different as in drastically and dramatically different. (Sorry, a few too many instances of the word “different” there.) These people also claim to be Christians, and they’re typically there every Sunday, singing and worshipping in church. But you don’t get the same feeling from them. You don’t get the same sense of God’s Presence in their lives, and you don’t see their impeccable character in the words and in their deeds. Yes, they work hard in the church, and yes, they give off the appearance of being a Christian. But deeper down, does Christ really live? When rumors are spread behind your back, is Christ in that? When hurtful words are spoken and no remorse is shown, is Christ in that? When hatred shows in your eyes, is Christ in that? Yes, I know that we all slip up and let Satan get the best of us. I know that. Even then, God’s convicting Holy Spirit is there, to speak to us, to tell us that we shouldn’t have said the hurtful things we said.

Sorry, I digress. Anyway, there was a meeting tonight at the church, to try to reconcile these two very different stories of how this event (the departure of this respected member) came to pass. People were hurt, people were offended, people were insulted by the way this event transpired, and the idea behind this meeting was to clear up those misconceptions. Unfortunately, the meeting devolved into a smear session, many people seeking to somehow tear down and hurt others instead of seeking to find the truth. My wife was insulted and hurt, deeply, by the comments of others—where is Christ in that? Where is the love of Christ in that? And again, there were these two different stories, two different accounts, two different histories presented by two different people, both claiming to be telling the truth and both claiming to be Christians. It was impossible for them both to be telling the truth; one of them had to be a liar. But which one? Who should be believed?

In the end, the choice was far easier than I thought it would be. It’s easy to talk the talk, but it’s not so easy to walk the walk. There’s a saying my kids are so tired of hearing me say—“Actions speak louder than words.” When I tossed aside the words, when I tossed aside the appearances, and when I really looked down inside, in whom did I see Christ? In whom did I see the love of Christ? In whom did I see respect and courtesy for others, even in the midst of disagreement? In whom did I see restraint of the tongue? Most of all, in whom did I see compassion? That is the person to be believed, for their actions speak far, far louder than their words.

This posting may not make any sense to you; that’s OK, because I mainly wrote it for myself. Consider it my donation to the many pages on the Internet that appear to be written in selfish vanity. Mainly I needed to get it out, to work through the events, to work through the spiteful words and the hateful looks, to work through the self-righteous indignation, and find Christ in one of these two people.

If you are not a Christian, you’re probably reading this thinking, “Ha! I knew all those Christians were phony hypocrites.” No, not all of us. Many, but not all. Please, don’t let the actions of a few turn you away. There are some of us who put aside the fancy words, who put aside the phony appearance, and instead seek to be Christian—“Christ-like”—in our actions, in our character, in our speech. Then, when you look deeper, you’ll know who to believe, and you’ll find Christ, too.

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