“I ate the federal refund check,” says one sign that hangs around the neck of a Labrador. “I lick the couch….a lot,” explains another small poster that’s propped up against the side of a sulking Chihuahua. In some way I suppose the owners of these animals take giddy comfort by sharing the struggles that they have with their dogs. Perhaps it gives them satisfaction to know that they got the last laugh after dealing with the anti-social habits of a pet that won’t stop being…well, anti-social.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it’s not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV).
There’s another type of activity that is currently transpiring among Christians of all faiths. It doesn’t seem that humorous to me. I call it “people-shaming.” It works like this: If someone doesn’t agree with my view of the scriptures, I feel a great need to set them straight by shaming their stance on the issue at hand. I take great pride in the idea that I am biblically correct in my view, and I cast a sad and condescending eye on anyone who doesn’t really “get it.”
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, evildoer, adulterers-or even like this tax collector,” (Luke 18:9-11, NIV).
The Pharisees were “good people” according to the “good people” of that day. They were “right” in everything they said and believed…and they excelled in “people-shaming.” I can quote all the scripture that seems applicable in a certain circumstance, but if in so doing I use it to show others how right I am and how incredibly wrong they are, perhaps some soul-searching is an appropriate activity for me to pursue.
Michael Temple writes from North Dakota
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