Have you ever noticed that in domestic movies, actors who portray foreign nationals usually speak with a British accent? Now, why do you suppose that is? Of course, the first explanation is competent foreign actors who speak English and fit the characters are too expensive to hire for low-budget flicks. Apparently the producers think British accents are easier to fake than others. And the second explanation is most movie-goers never think to ask such stupid questions. That, however, is the way my mind works.
The last answer begs another question, at least from me, so I’ll share it with you. Why do we so easily allow stereotypes to govern our perceptions? In the example above, we’re so used to movies portraying foreigners with British accents that we blindly accept it as true. The Behavioral Rule is, “Repeat a thing often enough and the hearer eventually believes it” … or, is that the “Madison Avenue Rule”?
Another example is the public perception that all Christians are hypocrites, and that all preachers are evil psychopaths. Must be true, ’cause Hollywood says so.
Yes, I’ve met a few hypocritical church-goers; in fact, I’ve been one, though that’s not a fact I’m proud of. I’m afraid that for many of us, hypocrisy is a stage of our growth in Christ, rather like the “idiot” stage of male human development. Some get stunted in that stage, pretending to be Christ-followers for years, or even for decades, and therein lies the source of the stereotype.
That fact, however, while it’s certainly not the most desirable of circumstances, isn’t the worst of it. Such carnal, church-going pretenders don’t simply make themselves miserable while possibly sidetracking their heavenly destination. More seriously, they weaken the spiritual glue that holds the fellowship together by introducing contentions and controversies that spread among the body of Christ like a cancer, often dividing the brethren into warring camps who forget about the gospel in lieu of their own fleshly interests. Like falling dominoes, the carnal spirit passes throughout the congregation, missing only the few who have no interest in being right, or any other symptom of pride.
Now that I’ve thoroughly mixed my metaphors, I’ll get back to my main point: The often-accurate stereotype only applies to the Christian religion, not to the true Way of Christ. Thing is, Christ-followers don’t follow a religion, because Christ isn’t a religion. He’s a Person, who longs for us to know Him, and to honor His heavenly Father with our holy lives. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to create a religion of hypocrites, or any religion for that matter. He died to show us God’s love, thereby winning our love, and reconciling us to the Father. With that relationship once again established, nothing can separate us from His love, regardless what the movies say about us.