Believers can help in finding a solution to Guyana’s problem
By Bishop Randolph George
November 4, 2002
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I want to offer in this Viewpoint my own thoughts, which many who are listening may be inclined to dismiss as another commercial, coming as it does from one who is a minister of religion. This is not an attempt to proselytize, but to appeal to the thousands who do not wish to be labelled unbelievers, since they claim some connection with one of the religious groups that exist in our country.
Within recent times there has been public acknowledgement that there is a role for the churches and religious groups to play in the search for a solution to the enormous problems that confront us at the present time. But one gets the feeling that only the leaders are looked to when we talk of the involvement of our religious groups. This is a good time to put the spotlight on the many who claim to be God-fearing, but who do not think it necessary to be identified in any way with the religious group to which they would claim allegiance when there is a wedding or a funeral.
Many people don't go to church because they say the people there are all hypocrites. Well that statement is sadly true. The church is full of hypocrites. None of us is as good as other people think we are and we don't want other people to know how deeply stained we are. So we try to cover our sins.
But that's true also of people who don't go to church. They too try to put on a good front, to be polite even when they don't feel like it, to smile when they want to curse someone. They try to present their best side even if their family and their own selves know differently. So everybody is in some way, a hypocrite.
The difference between church-going hypocrites and non-church-going-hypocrites is that church-goers are willing to admit their sins -- yes, and even their hypocrisy. For when they go into God's house they confess their sins to God and in front of each other. So at least they are honest sinners.
And they are doing something else. They are seeking help. They are looking at their church as a hospital for sick people. And they want to get cured of their sickness. So they come into it whenever they can. They're hoping that God will still work on them though they're proving to be pretty awkward patients.
Let's look at the other group -- those who stay away from church or temple or mosque. Is it because they don't want to be contaminated with our sins -- as though ours are worse than theirs? Is there a kind of inverted self-righteousness in them that says, "Yes I am a sinner. But at least I'm not a hypocrite like those people in church." But that's like saying, "Yes, I'm sick. But at least I'm not going to the hospital and making a show of my sickness". It seems to me that these people are saying they don't need help or even worse that there is nothing wrong with them. And even if they admit that they are sinners and are not prepared to do anything about it, they would be just like a person who admits having cancer or a heart problem, but does not go to the doctor for help.
We are all spiritually sick and it doesn't make sense to stand outside a hospital when you're sick any more than it does to stand outside a restaurant when you're hungry.
The church and the religious groups can help our country at this present time only if those who profess to believe are prepared to be identified with their fellow-believers.