The Great Hypocrisy
We've all, I suppose, heard the alleged excuse that many non-churched folks use for not going to church; namely, churches are full of hypocrites. I don't put a lot of stock in excuses, but this one may have a ring of truth to it. That's particularly true when you consider the possibility that, whereas some people simply don't want to go to church .. or get saved .. and simply use that as an excuse, there may be many serious people out there who are put off by what they see as hypocrisy. That the hypocrisy makes the entire God/Jesus/Church thing less appealing that it ought to be.
Than it really is.
For a minute, let's chase the giant rabbit in the room .. the elephant- sized one .. which bears on this whole matter. We got the diagnosis/test results of my CAT scan and whole-body bone scan, which took place last Thursday, a couple hours ago. Briefly, the bone scan was clear, but the CAT scan showed a 1.25" growth where a lymph node was, high in the abdomen. There are lots of things they can do about that, but my doctor has put me on a regimen of Lupron injections, which is a hormone which stops the growth of the cancer. He said he'll give them to me for 18 months and then stop them, and see what the PSA does. The PSA should go to zero now .. we'll check it in 4 weeks .. and then they'll check the deal again after 18 months. If it starts up again, after stopping the Lupron, then back on Lupron I go.
I might add that the PSA is now only 4.1, and I have a friend who'd had the radiation seed treatment years ago, whose PSA is now 12 and they're not even going to deal with it until it hits 20, so my doctor seems appropriately aggressive in treating me.
Can I get an AMEN for Dr. Burrus, please?
Back to my main thought. When the doctor said the PSA was too high after the surgery, my active imagination, naturally, thought up all the permutations of what might come of this. But early on, Peg and I decided that if our faith wasn't something we could LIVE, even with test results yet to be determined, then THAT faith wasn't worth having, and I sure oughtn't to be teaching it. Besides, we'd been through this, albeit with reversed roles, from about 1992 to 2001, with Peg and breast cancer. We already knew all those "vain imaginings", and where they'd get us, anyway.
So we decided we'd live our faith. All of it.
We're fine, and we were all along. I've had a fair idea that I was going to die someday, and if somebody'd told me as a kid that I'd live to be 70 or 75, I'm not sure I'd have believed them anyway.
Bottom line: if I was fine before this came up, I'm fine now. And I would have been, regardless of the results today, and I will be, regardless of what may develop in the future.
I was talking to a young lady who's an acquaintance of mine, this morning. She made the expectable well-wishing thoughts for a friend, and said she'd be more concerned about her family if she thought she was dying of cancer, than she would be about herself. I said I appreciated her wishes, and then asked her where she was going to go when she died. She said heaven, at least she hoped so. (We had the expected chat about that, as I think we ought to, and can, know that one for sure.) But then I made my point, which had prompted the question: If I trust God with my soul, I can doggone well trust Him with my family when I'm no longer around.
This very morning, I read a dissertation by John Piper on the topic of "Don't Waste Your Cancer". I don't intend to. And here's the crux of that, and the reason for the title of this post.
When I've asked about this alleged hypocrisy, here and there, what I hear mostly is stuff like people seeing church-members participating in activities we condemn in our sermons or lessons or public statements. Think of railing against drinking and then getting yourself seen in a liquor store buying a fifth of Old Rotgut.
Or preaching against gambling and then catching the preacher buying lottery tickets. But I don't think that's the great hypocrisy of the church.
As a member of our "prayer team" at church, we've seen requests come in from folks for years. And a decent number of folks have come to one of our unofficial meetings for special prayer. And I hasten to add we're grateful for all opportunities to pray something specific and special for someone, but many times we've seen people awaiting diagnoses following a battery of tests. And it's been discouraging to see many people evidence no confidence in the Lord and His ability to see us through those uncertainties they're facing. I have seen some who bordered on frantic in their demeanor, while forced to wait. My first prayer for them (and for myself, to be selfish) is increased faith.
I've also noticed, more times than I want to recall, people discussing the "joy of the Lord" defining it as something other than joy. Ditto for love, meaning willingness to sacrifice, rather than the true meaning of love which compels you to action, up to and including sacrifice.
Which brings me to what I see as the great hypocrisy of the church, namely this:
Telling the world what we believe, and then not acting like we believe it.
So. When my cancer was diagnosed, I told God I wasn't willing to settle for a watered-down version of faith, or joy, or peace, that conforms to the revised definitions the church has invented to mask the fact that the church seems to have been short on real faith or real joy or real peace. I wanted my life to reflect, every day, nothing less than the real deal, from a God Who loves me despite what any doctor on earth will ever tell me, or what my eyes may see.
Besides, in the words of my friend Nancy Kelly, I intend to live forever.
So far, so good.