I work and move within church circles and find that most of the people I meet there are honest, committed and for the most part, radiate their faith positively. Most churchgoers aren't hypocrites, writes Ron Rolheiser.
What I do find disturbing within church circles, though, is that too many of us can be bitter, angry, mean-spirited, and judgmental, especially in terms of the very values that we hold most dear.
It was Henri Nouwen who first highlighted this, commenting with sadness that many of the really angry, bitter, and ideologically-driven people he knew he had met inside of church circles and places of ministry.
The logic works this way: Because I am sincerely concerned about an important moral, ecclesial, or justice issue, I can excuse a certain amount of neurosis, anger, elitism, and negative judgment, because I can rationalize that my cause, dogmatic or moral, is so important that it justifies my mean spirit: I need to be this angry and harsh because this is such an important truth!
And so we justify our anger by giving it a prophetic cloak, believing that we are warriors for God, truth, and morals when, in fact, we are mostly just struggling with our own wounds, insecurities, and fears.
Hence we often look at others, even whole churches made up of sincere persons trying to live the gospel, and instead of seeing brothers and sisters struggling, like us, to follow Jesus, we see "people in error", "dangerous relativists", "new age pagans", "religious flakes", and in our more generous moments, "poor misguided souls".
But never do we look at what this kind of judgment is saying about us, about our own health of soul and our own following of Jesus.
Don't get me wrong: Truth is not relative, moral issues are important, and right truth and proper morals, like kingdoms under perpetual siege, need to be defended. Not all moral judgments are created equal, neither are all churches.
FULL STORY Following Jesus - according to the letter or the spirit? (Ron Rolheiser)