I have met so many religious hypocrites in the past several years that I don't believe in religion anymore. I do believe that people can have an honest, personal relationship with whatever spiritual being they choose to worship, but the concept of following a religion is lost to me. If a person claims to be of a particular religion they should embrace the ideals of that organization. Rarely have I seen this to be true. There are three areas in which I have most often observed this type of hypocrisy.
1. The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you". A perfect example of this type of behavior is on the road. Oh, what a scary time to be driving- right after church lets out on a Sunday afternoon! There are so many times in recent months that I have been cut off by a hurried driver or seen a car plowing through the 35 mile per hour school zone at what must be 50 miles per hour. I look up, and sure enough the car is sporting the Christian fish symbol that identifies the driver as part of this faith. People need to realize that they are representing an entire group when they put these symbols on their cars, clothing, or other personal items.
2. Give and take. One of the principals of Christianity is to give back what one has taken. In the churches I have attended there are hundreds of women in the Bible study groups, MOMs clubs, or other church based functions. These are great programs to take advantage of- if you don't do just that, take advantage. It seemed to me like it was the same small group of women always volunteering to serve. They would make the meals, clean the tables, and work the child care rooms. These women were so busy serving that they rarely got to enjoy an activity of their own. Only occasionally were they given the credit they were due with a sincere "thank you" from the rest of the group. Those with a servant's heart should be served themselves once in a while, as they have needs too.
3. Feed the hungry/ cloth the poor. Christians do a lot of talking about helping families that have less, but I don't see much of the actual work being done. A food drive during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays doesn't count in my book. This is something that everyone naturally participates in during the holidays. Get out and serve at a food bank once per month. Find a group of any type that needs help in one way or another. Use your imagination and find a need in your community that speaks to you and your family. Then find a way to fill that need and make it an important part of your life. Helping those in need doesn't need to be a full time job, but it does need to be a full time thought. If there is a homeless guy standing outside the grocery store, don't hand him money. Hand him a box of crackers you just purchased. Or even just stop and pray with him, letting him know that someone cares!
Being religious is more than just showing up at church once per week, putting special decals on your car, and praying in groups at the dinner table. Religion is a personal relationship with a higher being. But, that relationship should truely live in your heart. If it does, it will show in your outside actions. If it doesn't, you may want to take a deeper look at your true intentions. The definition of a hypocrite is saying one thing and doing another.