Recently David Letterman opened his mouth and swallowed his foot. Letterman's comedy is an acquired taste, to say the least, but I must confess to rarely missing his show during his first ten years or so on the air. I particularly enjoyed his "Top Ten" lists and will even today tune in from time to time to watch them.
Having said all that I must confess to missing the recent program in which Letterman made, or attempted to make, a joke concerning Sarah Palin's daughters. I have since seen a video of the joke. My initial reaction was one of disgust. That type of humor is why I stopped watching Letterman regularly. My second reaction was to ask the question: "Didn't anybody learn anything from the Don Imus incident?" Imus, as you may recall, temporarily lost his job and millions of dollars for a remark about the Rutgers University woman's basketball team. I am of the opinion that Imus' joke, as he called it, was much less offensive than Letterman's. Not that either is in any way appropriate. It remains to be seen what price Letterman will pay for his crude attempt at humor.
Recently Letterman issued a public apology in an attempt to blunt the backlash his "joke" has engendered. During his apology Letterman made this statement; "My intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception." I'm sure that there aren't many who remember the Andre Agassi ad campaign with the slogan "Image is everything." Letterman's intent is certainly open to debate, but we will not consider such things today. Unfortunately his words are all too true for almost every aspect of our culture. We vote for politicians, make purchase decisions, and choose churches based on perceptions. Unfortunately we too often find that perceptions are seldom equal to reality.
Unfortunately the power of perception rings true in the lives of many belivers as well. The Bible calls it hypocrisy. Very simply: far too many believers give off a vastly different perception of who they are as opposed to who they say they are. Basically, their walk doesn't match their talk. Therein lies much of what is wrong with the church today. Jesus told us that our actions reveal what is truly in our hearts. The perception about Christians is that we are hypocrites. I realize that this is a gross generalization, but the truth is that the world lumps all "christians" together. You get painted with the same brush as all other believers, good or bad.
How do we change the perception? There is only one way. Daily, consistent, persistent faithfulness that is lived out in acts of love. We can love all men without compromising the truth or disregarding the word of God. Why do we fail? Because it's hard work. We can no longer expect our words alone to be enough. We must put feet to our faith.