"It's tricky to make generalizations about Christians. After all, there are hundreds [...] of independent Christian sects, each one formed by followers who believed that all the other Christian sects were not following the proper Christian path. Such widespread lack of aggreement is remarkable given that the heart of Christian dogma is the assertion that the Bible is the single written text of divinely-revealed truth. [Actually, Rome and some other churches maintain that there is a living tradition and continuing revelation. RB] If all Christians accept the same book as the word of God, containing absolutely unquestionable instructions about how to live in the correct way, how come Christians end up dividing themselves into competing groups according to their disagreements about the right way to live?
One explanation is that the Bible is poorly written, with vague instructions, faulty logic, and an inconsistent collection of messages which contradict each other. Another explanation is that Christians don't really base their religious lives upon the teachings of the Bible.
The latter explanation is supported by the public, ostentatious manner in which most Christians pray. The Bible is very clear in what it says about the proper way for Christians to pray, stating in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, verses 5-6,
'When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. '
'But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.' (King James Bible)
The message is clear: if you claim to follow Jesus you ought to pray in secret, avoiding ostentatious displays of prayer intended to serve as a display of holier-than-thou pride before others. Most Christians seem either to be ignorant or to just not care about the message of these Biblical verses, contradicting the instructions of their own divine savior in order to satisfy their own egotistical religious identities." (courtesy: irregulartimes.com)
The above quotation from somebody else's blog may be a little harsh-- though perhaps appropriate as we begin Lent; but I find it ironic that one of the standard readings for Ash Wednesday is the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 5-6. What could be a more public display of piety than walking around with ashes on one's forehead?