Self-righteous Christians really tick me off.
I work with a woman who goes to church every Sunday, volunteers at her church’s youth program once a week, belongs to numerous Bible studies throughout the week, serves on her church’s council, and does just about every program her church has to offer. She claims to know the Bible forward and backward and everything in between. On paper, she looks like the model Christian, the perfect candidate for heaven.
But she gossips more than any woman I know.
We worked in close quarters last year. When she found out that my then-fiance had moved in with me, the whole school knew by the end of the day. She labeled me as a sinner, a fornicator, an adulteress.
When she found out my husband is Hispanic, she told me, “The only reason colored men go for white women is to have mixed babies.” She also told anyone who would listen that Alice has a black husband from Puerto Rico (not the right race or country, girl get yo facts straight!) and that it is a sin to marry outside of your race and I’m a sinner.
When she found out I was moving classrooms, she started a nasty rumor that I hated her and that she asked for me to be moved because I treated her so poorly. We were only ever in the same room together during lunch. The only time I treated her poorly is when I went to our boss about the racist comments she was making toward me and my family.
She told everyone I was always dumping my work on her. I stay after school at least 5 hours a week to get ahead on work, even though it should be a team effort. I never ask her to grade papers, make copies, or file anything. Ever. I asked her to keep data on a particularly difficult student…for 1 week.
She told everyone that I looked pregnant. Sorry lady, I just haven’t been to the gym recently and I thoroughly enjoy pizza and beer. And my boobs have been swelling because of the lack of exercise – the only perk of going from a size 2 to a size 8. Not from my mammary glands getting down to business.
She told everyone that I was cheating on my husband because she saw me out with another man. I introduced her to that other man when she saw us. The other man was my father, and my brother was also present.
She told everyone I am a drunk. I drink a few glasses of wine a week and sometimes have a good time with my friends. She told people I am a drunk because I told her my favorite winery has a wine that tastes almost like church wine. Apparently, it is a sin to compare regular wine to church wine.
Let me be clear – I am not perfect. I am a sinner. I have a foul mouth, I have a temper, and sometimes I get angry with God. I like to drink more than I should, I don’t give as much money as I should to the church, and I really enjoy sex with my husband outside of making babies. Sometimes, I think poorly of people and I ask Jesus to change my heart to accept those around me and to not be judgmental. Sometimes, I tell fibs. Often, I put other things before God. I should be a better person. I am not a model Christian, and I will certainly have a lot to answer for when I get to the pearly gates.
But here is the thing. I know that I’m not great. I know it is by the grace of God that I am saved. I know it is through Jesus that I am made new after each sin I make. I know no matter what good deeds I do, I am not worthy of God’s love, but He loves me anyway.
Jesus talks about how the Pharisees and the scribes like to make a big fuss over their “goodness” in the synagogues and how that is all for show. Jesus talks about how those who have to be flashy with their goodness are not really good. One man in the synagogue even compares himself to the guy beside him, saying (in a nutshell) “at least I’m not like this guy.” It reminds me a lot of this lady, and I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for her that she doesn’t have a relationship with God like I do. I feel sorry for her that she gossips about others and puts them down to build her righteousness up. I feel sorry that she feels that her works will get her to heaven. Because this poor woman does not understand that it is not her volunteer work that gets her to heaven. It is not the amount of time she spends in the church. It is not the fact that she is “better” than me that will get her into heaven. It is the love of Jesus. She spends more time focusing on the bad things that others do instead of the incredible things that Jesus has already done and continues to do. She focuses on my faults instead of praising the goodness of Jesus.
I am a sinner, but I am loved. I hope everyone gets to feel the way I feel someday. Especially my coworker. I hope that someday she is at peace with the fact that nothing she does (or comparing her goodness to the badness of me) compares to the unrelenting love of Jesus. Maybe then she will realizing that gossiping does not get you into heaven and she will focus on what truly matters.