All of a sudden, down at my feet, Chloe belched. This was not the dainty puff of air I sometimes hear from our older heeler, who then looks at me with embarrassed, downcast eyes. This was a full-blown, open-mouthed belch that, proportionate to her size, would have rivaled any beer-bellied redneck. I laughed out loud from the sheer shock of it. I had never heard a puppy belch. I didn’t even know it was possible. Puppies are cute; puppies are playful; puppies are sweet and innocent. Hearing Chloe belch certainly ruined that image.
Unfortunately, image is one thing and reality is something else entirely. Sometimes we forget that and set ourselves up for a lot of disappointment that could be avoided. And sometimes that disappointment costs us our faith.
Consider this one thing, among many others: how much more shocked are we when a preacher or elder falls? “What hypocrites!” we instantly accuse. Yet, isn’t it a poor preacher who cannot preach better than he can practice? Why should his inability to be perfect (which we have no problem telling him about otherwise) keep us from trying at all? The reality is we all fail once in a while, even though our image of them says they shouldn’t.
Whenever someone says to me, “I’ll never go to that church because some of the people there are hypocrites,” I usually answer, “Even the apostles had a Judas among them, but they did not let that make them forsake their Lord.”
To those who leave the church “because of all the hypocrites,” Keith usually says, “And you are going to leave the Lord’s church in their hands?” You see, what it all boils down to is yet more excuses for our own behavior.
No matter how well put together people seem on the outside, everyone has problems. Sometimes the worst problem anyone can have is trying to live up to another person’s image of him. If anyone knows he is not perfect, it is usually the one whom everyone else thinks is. Not preachers, not elders, not elders’ wives, not great Bible scholars—no one is without fault.
That person you think is a perfect wife? Once in a while she nags. That person you think is a great husband? Once in a while, he leaves his dirty clothes in the floor. That couple you think have a perfect family? Once in a while their children roll their eyes at their parents and actually rebel a little. That one you think is always so kind and sweet? Once in a while she loses her temper.
Never blame your own faithlessness on the imperfections of others. No one is perfect. Don’t let your image of how things ought to be, rob you of your faith when reality checks in.
Even puppies belch.
If you, O Jehovah, should mark iniquities, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you that you may be feared. I wait for Jehovah, my soul does wait, and in his word do I hope. O Israel, hope in Jehovah, for with Jehovah there is lovingkindness, and with him is plenteous forgiveness. Psalm 130:3,4,7.