[See below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk]
Where Are You In the Bible?
The Bible is a very complex book that illustrates a wide range of attitudes and actions that embody these attitudes.
I recently came across some statements that can serve as a kind of self-assessment tool. Developed by the Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling firm, the instrument involved 20 statements. Ten statements expressing attitudes found in the Bible and another 10 on actions in the Bible.
At first, I simply read the statements. Then I found it very enlightening to get personal as a form of self-assessment. I framed my answers in terms of “That’s me”, “That is me sometimes” or “That is not me”.
Here is an arbitrary sampling of the statements. What is your response?
Actions and Attitudes
- I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.
- I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me.
- In recent years, I have influenced multiple people to consider following Christ.
- I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.
- I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.
- I see God working in people’s lives, even when they are not following him.
- It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.
- It is more important to help people know God than it is for them to make sure they know they are sinners.
Two sets of attitudes and actions
Perhaps you were able to discern a polarity in these random questions.
If you did you were correct! The Barna Group survey was trying to stimulate practical discussion about “Christ-likeness” and “Pharisaical self-righteousness”.
Their findings were revealing…
The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.
At the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus.
In the middle are those who have some mix of action and attitude. About one-fifth of Christians are Christ-like in attitude, but often represent Pharisaical actions (21%). Another 14% of respondents tend to be defined as Christ-like in action, but seem to be motivated by self-righteous or hypocritical attitudes.
Vincent, Louise, Frederic, Rosalie…
Then I thought of our heroes and heroines among the followers of Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor.
Imagine yourself as the one you feel closest to. Reread the statements of attitudes and actions as if you were that person.
I suspect you will come to a greater respect for each of them.
To go further…
I encourage you to read all 20 statements and the more detailed findings at https://www.barna.com/research/christians-more-like-jesus-or-pharisees/
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk