Years ago (wow…years, really?) Jon Acuff wrote a blog piece called “Being Slightly Less Nice than Mormons.” In the Post he was talking essentially about Christian Jerks. I have even heard my pastor on occasion talk about being a Christian Jerk as well. I’ve also heard Stephen Furtick, Perry Noble and Rick Warren, bemoan those Christians who judge them. Furtick even goes as far as to refer to them as “haters.” And how dare they judge…I mean don’t they know the Bible verse that says “Judge not lest ye be judged” (side note: why is it even those unsaved, outside the church, can quote this verse to you and in the KJV translation?)
When did being a Christian become about being just nice and happy and fake with each other?
Does the Bible really say not to judge others?
Are we not supposed to be able to look at someone and see that they may need the Lord? Does it mean then that we should not witness to someone at all for fear of “judging” them? Not at all, as I always say, when it comes to Bible study the three most important rules are: context, context and context. If we read this verse in its entire context:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Seems pretty straightforward, don’t judge others. Don’t look at how others live and call them a sinner for their lifestyle after all, the Bible does say that “all are sinful from birth.” But if we continue to read the next verse:
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Wow, that seems pretty straightforward too.
How are we to know who are “dogs” and who are not without discernment, without judging at least on some level?
These verses don’t mean we can’t look at someone, how they live and what not, and determine that they are not Christians and need the Lord. These verses mean that we are not the final judge. That job alone is for God. Furthermore, you have to look at to whom Jesus was speaking here, and in this case it was the Pharisee’s who did act like the final judge on all matters of salvation. Also, he is reminding them not to give something to someone who will not see its value which is part of the reason I wrote my blog post on debating atheists.
Well, okay…that’s all well and good. We CAN look at people and judge whether or not they are saved or need witnessed to. We CAN look at someone and determine whether or not we need to talk about Jesus with them. But that same standard doesn’t apply in church right? I mean all are sinful and you are just as much a sinner as I am…we all need the Lord…we all need grace…right? Yes right, we DO need grace. We ALL sin daily and sin much. But as Christians, we have a right and a CALLING to hold each other up and make sure we are always on point. We have a CALLING to judge those within the house of God and call them to be Biblical in all their ways. We have a CALLING to sharpen our brothers, with love in Christ. We have a CALLING to help train others in righteousness. 1 Corinthians 5:12 says this:
“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Proverbs tells us: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Not only are we to judge those within the church and hold them to God’s standards we are to purge those among us that are evil, or that are not our brothers in Christ.
Purge…as in get rid of.
Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t call them to true saving faith, and that doesn’t mean we act like a Christian jerk. What that does mean is that we have a duty to make sure that those in the church, those who call themselves “Christians” are acting like those in the church should and not acting like the world, and in my opinion not even for the sake of “contextualization.”
How loving of us would it be to see a child wandering out into traffic and not try to stop them?
How loving of us would it be to see immature Christians chasing spiritual myths and not try to stop them?
In America we have the idea of “Tolerance” shoved down our throat. Tolerance is like a baby duck…stupid. We are supposed to be tolerant of others beliefs here in America, the problem is those who cry for tolerance are often the ones that are the most intolerant of your beliefs. That idea of tolerance unfortunately carries over to the church. We are to be nice, pleasant, smile a lot and not ever let anything get us down…in other words: be fake, but that is not at all the kind of person Scripture calls us to be as Christians.
We can and should judge those in the church…Paul commended the Bereans as being “More noble” for judging, for being discerning of the letters Paul was writing. Would Paul commend us the same way? Or are we going to let a child wander out into traffic, as long as no one calls us a jerk for stopping them?
Okay, you say, BUT what about as Furtick puts it:”haters”?
I am the first to admit there are people out there who act like Christian jerks. People who are so dogmatic in their wrongheaded beliefs that they will not even consider whether or not what someone is desperately trying to tell them is Biblical or not. There are people who are quick with accusations of the person calling them out being a Pharisee (or a basement dwelling Cheetos eater.) It is a very immature Christian (and sometimes wolf in sheeps clothing) who acts this way. After all what child likes being corrected? The simple and overlooked truth is that it is real love that corrects, real love that reproofs; it is real love that teaches and trains. Those who are calling for adherence to the Biblical gospel aren’t “haters” Those who want pastors all over the country to preach Christ and him crucified for our sins and raised on the third day, instead of the latest self-help motivational speech are actually real lovers, lovers of the church, lovers of the bride of Christ and want to see that bride beautiful and clean and holy with all its evil having been purged, as we are CALLED to do in scripture.
Those who want to adhere to the wrongheaded unbiblical beliefs are the haters…the haters of the Biblical church as it is called to be and the lovers of themselves. My mother taught me a clever little saying and your mother probably taught you the same saying…my mother wasn’t exactly the most original person. “Whenever you point your finger at someone you have three pointing back at you.” I do believe this is appropriate in this case. Those who are quick to bemoan “haters” are haters themselves.
There are two great problems with this: The first is that not everyone can see past the rhetoric, sheep are sheep sometimes and when their “shepherd” (goat herder) tells them someone is a “hater” they believe him…and consequently many are led astray to their own demise. For the second the onus is on the “pastor” (goat herder) themselves…Many, many times scripture warns of those teaching a gospel contrary to the true gospel and their fate. I believe the warning that speaks the loudest comes from Christ himself in Matthew, Mark and Luke our Lord’s words are recorded:
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:5-6
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:2
I may be an amateur theologian but when something Jesus said is recorded in three of the four gospels it must be pretty important. This is not just a warning for children’s pastors and Sunday school teachers. This is a warning for ALL pastors; it is just before this in Matthew that Jesus says “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” When men and women come into God’s kingdom they don’t do so as fully mature Christians, but as spiritual babies. And when a hater posing as a pastor teaches these spiritual infants it’s the equivalent of spoon-feeding them venomous poison. They are causing these little ones in Christ to sin by spreading the hate. And according to the Bible they do so to their own destruction. I don’t know about you but words like “accursed” and phrases like “millstone around the neck and thrown into the sea” are kind of scary, but these haters are so biblically illiterate that they don’t realize verses like these are giant warning signs for teachers like them. Unless they turn from there wicked ways their fate is sealed, which is why instead of labeling people as haters…maybe it would behoove them to listen. As always the Bible sums things up better than I can so I will close this extraordinarily long blog post with this call to preserver from Jude:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.