“ANGELA ATWOOD WAS a dear, honest, sincere girl, who—like Christ—died for her beliefs.”
These words actually fell from the lips of the Reverend Citro, a Roman Catholic priest, as he delivered Angela’s eulogy to those who had gathered in St. Paul’s Church of Prospect Park, New Jersey. Sadly, this young woman was one of the six hard-core Symbionese Liberation Army members killed in Los Angeles in 1974. The way the eulogy was delivered, you’d think she was martyred—you’d get the distinct impression that the SLA is a religion that will save society’s soul if we will only allow its members to carry on their “ministry” of terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, and murder.
“Sincerity” is considered the international credit card of acceptance. Flash it in the face of Mr. and Mrs. Gullible Public and it will be honored without question. No matter how deeply in debt the user may be or how much the card is misused, “sincerity” will erase all suspicion and validate all actions. You don’t even need to sign the voucher. Just write “I’m sincere” at the end of each transaction, and you’ll become another in a long line of card-carrying creatures who keep our world on the edge of crisis. For some strange reason, justice sleeps as judge and jury smile at the ultimate verdict, “Not guilty because of sincerity.”
But does this mean that sincerity is questionable? Not really. It might be better to say that the value of sincerity depends on what it represents. Here’s what the Bible teaches:
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless [sincere] lives until the day of Christ’s return.
When the Son shines through and tests our lives, the absence of cracks will guarantee the presence of truth. You cannot separate the two . . . no matter how sincere you may be.