17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Paul, a Jew among Jews, and follower of the Jewish Christ Jesus calls the Jews out. He calls them out on the same issue I need to call myself out on: hypocrisy. Is the law of Moses alone and cultural Jewish heritage sufficient without the behavior prescribed by that law? Is the Christian scripture alone and cultural Christian heritage sufficient without the behavior prescribed by that law? No in both cases. Back up. Sufficient for what? According to Romans 2:12-16, sufficient to be considered justified before God.
I said that Paul called the Jews out. He calls Christians out in the same breath. Is it enough to have a law and not consider it? Is it right to judge others by a standard that you don’t follow yourself? Any teenager can answer – – of course not. She would be right. Which verse pierces me most?
24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
I confess that as a Christ-follower I have too often been a hypocrite. The reputation of Jesus has too often been tainted by my inconsistency. This scripture calls me to humility. It is God’s kindness that led me to turn and I believe that it can be my kindness in part that reduces obstacles to faith for others. I want my life to point clearly to a law written on my heart – – a law that liberates and anchors my soul and offers hope to others. I don’t want to live one life in church and another in my secular vocation. All vocation is sacred for one who follows Christ.
The only problem that I have with the comprehensive lists that skeptics have compiled of wrongs done by Christ-followers is this – – I think that the Christ-followers should have written the lists. Why would I not repent of evil done in the name of my God by those who claim him? Why would I not repent of sin, injustice, selfishness, and hate done in God’s name. I don’t want his name blasphemed among skeptics because of me. And yet – – one solid reason that people have for not believing is abuse at the hands of people who claim the name of Christ — people like me. I’m truly sorry.