For a thrash metal fanatic like me, this would bring into memory the glory days of Metallica. Except that this time, it’s not Metallica playing in the background but rather a pastor preaching one of his sermons on television. He was asking his audience something about what ‘would we do if we ever get ridiculed by other people by taunting us holier than thou?’
I did not pay attention to the answer of his own query because I immediately recognized myself in the situation he was referring to. The verdict, my verdict – GUILTY. How many times have I uttered at the back of my mind ‘holier than thou’ with the slightest dismay and anger to people whom there never seems to be the slightest trace of sincerity and compassion of which they are claiming otherwise. Perhaps I’m too judgmental. Maybe that’s me projecting myself into them. Enough of psychology, because it doesn’t always need one when it comes to detection and the feel of pretentious people feeling like holies.
Letheyn and Ami
They were my classmates back in high school. The former is a sister of a faculty member, the latter is the daughter of a science teacher. They were the popular kind. With brains, beauty (they’re not super beautiful and neither ugly) and an allergy to the native dialect, not one associated with them would be labeled uncool.
Ok, so they’re great. With that, there had been expectations of them as “good” people. Maybe just MY expectations which just proved how shaky my expectations of the world were at that time. During our freshmen years, I imagined that they’d be easy to approach, warm to everyone, and like me, detest division and give a fair chance of friendship to everyone. With their siblings and parents as school authorities, it was implied that they were role models for others in the campus. Because after all, our common motto for that time was to draw everyone to the Almighty.
Of course I was very wrong. They were of high standards unable to be reached by ‘commoners’ like us. They have their own cherished associations and thus divided the class with the ‘holy elites’ and the ‘damned commoners’. They have their eyebrows raised to everyone not their kind. Sabbath school comes but it is still the same as the other days of the week.
So much for my expectations. HOLIER THAN THOU!
The College Holies
We often visited Jason in his boarding house near us. Along with him were Leon and other batch mates. Inside of their haven, you will hear nothing but Don Moen and Chris Tomlin singing in the background. One time while we are all present in his boarding house, we tried to play a CD of Metallica which is Jason’s. It was just the right volume; not too soft that you can’t hear and neither too loud to disturb and distract anyone. ‘Turn it off’ said Leon. I wasn’t able to command my senses immediately because I’m somewhat stunned and angered with his command, void of words like please and kindly. Without saying it the second time, he reached for the CD player and turned it off himself. ‘Ok, ok’ I thought. I must have desecrated their sanctum, with the sounds already considered an abomination.
I did not apologize (why should I?) and I never talked to him in a friendly way ever since. Well it’s no surprise that even in school, they didn’t mingle just as much with others. There were only about two to three of them in constant fellowship with one another. Hard as I try not to commit some discriminating thoughts but I was thinking that their mindset might have been that they’re holy and we’re not. That they’re never to associate with the ‘sinners’ or else they might be ‘burned’ as well in hell. My respect to them especially to Leon reached a critical level, until it was completely wiped off in a blink of an eye.
During our engineering department outing, Leon et al were the only group who brought their guitar with them. As we settled in a resort and the night gathers around, the moment was perfect for singing and getting drunk. We tried to borrow their guitar and even invited them to jam with us. What happened next is no surprise at all – it’s a stiff NO. While we are sharing stories at dawn, they’re clustered in a separate kiosk, less than five of them singing songs of praise – Don Moen or Chris Tomlin I suppose, trying to sanitize themselves from the rest of us.
‘Well, they have their own separate world’ said a classmate of mine. ‘It’s quite a shame for us bothering them!’
From then on, I vowed to play Metallica and other rock music whoever I’m with, so long as it is not blasphemous and the place and situation is within my dominion. HOLIER THAN THOU!
So what’s this fuss all about? Tried as I did, I never fully got over my wrong expectations of the religious world and the alleged religious people. Things just got sugar-coated back in childhood and nobody said it was bitter, toxic, and the way Jesus Chris described it “white-washed tomb” people.
Church people are kind people. They’re there because of a higher calling. They are someone you can confide to and lean on spiritually. They’re main mission is to proclaim the good news and to live in a way pleasing to the Almighty and service to other men. Well, not all of them. Some don’t even care whether you’re there or not, or whether you accept the Word or not. After all, they’re all saved by now and while we’re ‘in the dark, gnashing teeth.’
Maybe I am hypocrite too. A wannabee, a preacher-junkie enslaved in my youth blinded by the desire to be acknowledged as godly. All the church dogmas that can possibly fit in my limited juvenile mind, I kept piously. Now, I wasn’t able to hold fast to my beliefs earlier about other people especially fellow believers. Maybe I made the wrong interpretation about how binding a fellowship should be. Maybe I didn’t get to practice what I preach, that I wasn’t able to walk my talk and focused instead on the global epidemic of hypocrisy slowly taking over me and my neighbors, professing that they are the chosen ones.
So what will convince me and others such that the light will undoubtedly shine in the dark?
*Jesus Christ associated with sinners because ‘He came to seek and save the lost.’ He was not a snub. He has this compassion and genuine interest to people even to those who despised him. We may not be able to replicate perfectly the grace God bestowed to everyone but we can show true interest and compassion to a person.
*God’s religion is not a religion of hate and partition. I remember a friend, Aileen, when she said that she doesn’t want to talk about religion because it is a hate doctrine. I disagreed right away but I’m rather thankful that I did not air my opinions out immediately because right now, I also arrived at the same conclusion and she is very correct. Religion evolved from heart-felt sympathy to a we’re-saved-and-you’re-damned dogma and way of life. I believe that true religion does not promote division of the sinners and saints, who are condemned and who will be saved; that it does not endorse isolation of the believer and unbeliever. Jesus commended the penitent tax collector, who, while praying cannot lift his eyes unto the heavens. Instead, he pounded his heart with his fist and in his deep sorrow asked the Lord for mercy and forgiveness. The father welcomed back his prodigal son out of his love, compassion, and sorrow for the lost soul begging for forgiveness and second chance. Jesus said that he as a Shepherd will leave the 99 sheep in search for the lost one. Jesus was (and still is) drawn to the lost. How much more should modern-day shepherds go out and search eagerly for the lost sheep in the world?
*How can people be drawn to God if the ‘enlightened ones’ stay with their own ‘kind’? Weren’t the disciples commanded to go forth – not in the synagogues, nor in the comfort of Jerusalem – but rather in the cruel and hostile world so that the lost sheep will come to repentance and live in the bountiful mercy and love of the Father?
Amidst the ruckus, with almost every preacher, professional or a trying-hard teacher nailing and convicting one another using the scriptures as constitution of the spiritual courtroom, I do admire and would rather be converted by the silent ones, walking the walk minus the boisterous talking and condemning eyes. I’ve been blessed to know a few of such people. They’re not the assuming kind and not the preachy type either but you can see the innocence in their eyes, the willingness to extend themselves for others to lead them unto the Living Water, rendering the true service without a thought on the prize and without condemning others. Such people deserve respect. For me, they are the true chosen ones.