1 Corinthians 5:12,13
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…
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“God…has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Once upon a time I fancied myself on the order of ‘tell ’em like it is’ Isaiah or a hair-pulling Nehemiah or Day-of-the-Lord-Joel. There’s certainly nothing wrong with these approaches – if that’s what God has called you to do. Dare I even say, having an anointing for it.
For a large portion of my traveling ministry I bristled at the term ‘evangelist’, informing pastors straightaway my calling is to the church, not the lost and outside. I cozied up much better to ‘revival speaker’ as I believed my purpose was best utilized for lighting a fire under the church.
God certainly has His evangelists and prophets, but how quickly had I forgotten His mission for me, spelled out in a thought-conversation between us as I lay broken-back paralyzed on a hospital bed in 1981? In a flow of revelation, I heard the kindness of God speak to my wondering mind:
Scott (we’re on a first-name basis), My Church is filled with broken people and I want you to share My message of hope and grace to My hurting remnant.”
But what title goes with that? What office of the Church is this? How do pastors introduce me? Encourager? Healer?
(I dunno, how about – just spitballin’ here – “Scott”; I mean, that’s what my Father calls me…)
All that to say this: I get it. Perhaps 20 or 30 years later, but I understand. I’m an encourager. That’s how God uses me. It can sometimes cross over into exhorter, but always in a spirit of encouragement. God has His prophets, but that’s not really my gig.
So when I write posts like this, I know I’m taking a risk. I realize I’m playing with Ezekiel’s fire, so I’ll do so ever so cautiously, and, trust me, by the end you’ll see more of my encouragement resurface.
Still, I feel compelled. Not by Scott Mitchell but by the Spirit of Christ who called me to preach the Good News of liberation (God used Isaiah 61:1,2 to bring me to my teen-aged senses). Inherent in my calling to encourage the Body is my own hope to see the church set free.
So first, if you haven’t already, go back to the top and read those lead-in scriptures. I’ll wait for you back here.
Wait. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of “Christians shouldn’t judge” and fly this flag as its emblem. Nossir. That’s not what Paul is saying.
Of course we’re supposed to judge! Only, we must never judge in the sense of writing somebody off or sending them to their doom with ‘wiping hands clean’ hearts. Matthew 7:1 has to be balanced against Matthew 7:16 and John 7:24. Our judging must be filtered through the lens of humility and tempered by the love of Christ.
And…according to these and many other scriptures, Christians are supposed to judge.
God has given the church the mandate to judge itself – albeit righteously and mercifully (see Gal 6:1-ff).
And that’s what I’m doing here. I’m posting this blog to say ‘brethren, we’re in sad shape and may God heal us of all our diseases.‘
Frankly, we’re so sick we shouldn’t have a lot of extra time snorting and harrumphing on Facebook, demeaning the sins of others; others, of course, being those outside the faith.
I’m choosing not to join the fray on these matters and others that appear to be blowing up my timelines on Twitter and Facebook. The fact I’m not joining in isn’t out of cowardice (I know where I stand, I just don’t have weapons in my hands while doing it) but because I’m waiting for the church to be just as angry about its own sin instead of focusing on those glaring offenses blitzing our social mediums.
Those matters are ‘Adam behaving like Adam’. It’s what unredeemed Adam does. (Okay, understand I’m not talking about violence and criminal activity in this post – there are necessary repercussions for these)
I could talk all day about the many offenses of the church in our time but I’m choosing to only name three. Only three. Three biggies, mind you, but just these three…for starters.
If the church could repent of just these three, I believe the world would be in a much different place. Oh, the unbelieving world that chooses to remain in its unbelief will still be well on its way to hell, but if these three things could be dealt with, my my my, what a difference there could be.
But I’m warning you, they’re big. I mean mountainous. No, mountain range-ous. I’m talking Swiss Alps here.
Here they are:
It seems fairly obvious to me we like to point out the big foibles of others’ lives so we don’t have to look at our own damning issues.
When I see hateful, hurtful posts spewing venom at the unredeemed by professing believers, I’m wont to ask, so how’s that lying problem of yours? Jesus said liars and hypocrites won’t inherit the Kingdom of heaven. Are you loving your wife as Christ loves His Bride, or thinking it’s just a suggestion? Have you lusted on the internet recently? Any person for whom you’re harboring unforgiveness?
Hear me: I’m not leaving myself out of the mix. I’m well aware of the thoughts I can think and the emotions as judge, jury, and executioner I can call up in a heartbeat. I’m simply making a plea for self-examination, for falling on the mercy of Jesus once we’ve each had a long, hard look at the man in the mirror. If we’ve been forgiven much, we’ll love much, Jesus said.
How silly is it that we feel we have any authority at all to morally legislate the behaviors of those outside the faith, when we can’t even get along inside the household of faith? Are you kidding me?
38 THOUSAND denominations in Christianity today? 38 maybe, but 3-8-comma-and-3-zeros? That’s 38,000 times a group has splintered off another group – often (not always, I realize) out of unyieldedness, stubbornness, selfish ambition, heavy-handedness, unfixable divides, and bearing grudges instead of bearing with one another.
I’m not even going to go into all the splinterings and splits within churches of the same denomination!
Jesus prayed that His people would be one (John 17:23,24). My spiritual father calls this “the most evangelistic prayer ever prayed” because Jesus said its answer would result in the world seeing Christ on earth, in full display, and “believe” (v21).
Maybe, just maybe, there would be less Caitlyns if only they would see more of the beautifulness (it’s possibly a word) of Jesus and His life on display among His followers.
Please, let us dream.
This speaks to lukewarm love; yes, for Christ, certainly, but a tepid love for others, both the fallen & lost, and the wayward & scandalized. Jesus forecasted a cooling of love in the last days (Matthew 24:12), moving into cold-heartedness. I think He knew it would also be so among His so-called followers, regretfully.
Where is the love for the lost? Where is gracious compassion for the impenitent? Why the vitriol for sinners? Why the hatred and Pharisaic disgust for the unclean? Have we forgotten how once we were so far off, despising God and His reign, shaking our fist at heaven … and yet … and yet … “God [showed] His love for us while we were yet sinners…”???
We can’t blame the gays on any of these sins of the church. We can’t point a finger at Hollywood or the Democratic Party or Obama or Hillary Clinton or the Supreme Court for our slide and failures.
Merciful Jesus, in G.K. Chesterton style, I say in answer to the query of “what’s wrong with the world?” a resounding, “I am.”
Dear Church, no finger-pointing here.
I’m a self-righteous Pharisee at times. I snort at the sinner and glad-hand myself for my straight-arrow walk. Foolish am I.
I can be divisive – perhaps not openly so, but in my heart I can grumble about another who has better gifts than I minister with, and I can gossip in the name of Jesus – even if it’s *only* to my spouse, thus coloring her opinion thence onward. Ragamuffin am I.
I have a flagging love for others. I can choose to walk around a dirty street person every once in awhile so as not to be bothered whilst on my alternative mission, or sigh when I see “that person” calling or texting me again, and what can they possibly need now … or … why can’t they just get over their stuff???
Jerk am I.
I’m not immune any more than you are, but I know this: the same Jesus that loved me in spite of my hatred of Him before I mercifully saw the Light, loves me still, in spite of these confessions, and He’s not writing me off.
I’m making it my heart’s pledge to never do that to anybody, either. I’m going to believe that Caitlyn Jenner is loved by God and the broken places that no surgery can fix can be mercifully touched and transformed (not transgendered) by His love. Snarkiness never won nobody to Jesus. I’m believing Tony Campolo is my brother and I can see past our disagreements to a man (like me) still on his way to fullness and find the Jesus in him. (To hear some tell it, he’s already been ascribed to hell.) Same with the Duggars or Rob Bell. Or the pope. And the LGBT community. And ____________ (insert politician’s name here).
Is it easy? Was it “easy” for God to love me in my darkest rebellion? Remember: He still came looking for Adam when He knew what the rascal’d done. That’s my mandate. Never give up, never let go, never write off, never condemn, never stop loving. Tears, backstabs, betrayals, sleepless nights, anger, good news, bad news, relapses (give me grace, God), roller coasters, merry-go-rounds…
But hey, sounds a lot like my résumé, past and present. Thank God He didn’t – and doesn’t – hate me all over social media. I guess I’m saying, He, the Founder of the Church, treats people a lot better than the church does. We can do better. By the mercy of Christ Who fills His Church…we can do better. So let’s.