Tag Archives: Judgment

Being the Right Church

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 (Originally published 9/5/13)

I really like my church. The pastor gives a great sermon nearly every week and everyone there is very friendly. The church as a whole really cares about the community and does several outreaches as well as mission trips abroad. Their is a general heart for people at that really shines.

But their praise and worship music is way too loud. And there are a few other things that annoy me every Sunday. Some of these little things have been enough to start me contemplating a church change. I’ve been a ‘member’ of 4 churches in the last 12yrs, and while I remember my other two churches and the people I knew there fondly, I’ve so far failed to find a true and lasting fellowship connection.

I think a lot of people are in the same boat. They go to a church for a few years, fail to really ‘plug-in’, get annoyed with a handful of small details, and go looking for a change. Or perhaps they get too ‘plugged-in’ and, realizing that their pastors are humans and make mistakes, they get disillusioned and leave.

The worst is when someone in the church hurts you and you leave because of the pain, sometimes never to return. I myself have been hurt and annoyed by my fellow church attendees on a few occasions and, if I’m being honest, I’m still harboring some resentment about it.

Whenever I consider going church shopping again, I think of a story I heard one time:

Once, in a small mountain village, there lived an old man who liked to sit outside the village and greet visitors. One day, a band of travelers approached the old man and asked him to tell them about the people in his village. He responded with a question: “What were the people in your own village like?”

“They were terrible,” the travelers replied. “They were vicious and backbiting, they gossiped all the time and everyone was extremely selfish and judgmental. We finally had enough and we’re looking for a new home.”

“The people in this village are the same way,” The old man told them.

The travelers sighed and nodded, having expected as much. They continued on their way, in search of greener pastures.

Presently, a second group of travelers approached the old man with the same question and he replied in the same way: “What were the people in your own village like?”

“They were wonderful!” the travelers gushed. “Everyone had a real sense of community and neighborly love. We all looked out for each other and became like a real family. We hated to leave, but we felt led to go out and begin new settlements.”

“The people in this village are the same way,” The old man told them.

You see, I’m discovering that the common weak link in my church shopping is me. Churches, and Christians, get a bum rep. We are called judgmental hypocrites and churches are given wide berth by people who either a) don’t know what we are really like, or b) know exactly what we are like.

The thing is, we are humans. All of us. Christians too. People outside the church don’t want us judging them (and we shouldn’t) but then turn around and judge us for being judgmental. I myself have fallen into the trap of viewing my fellow church attendees according to their sins. Sins like overly loud music, or hurting those I hold dear.

But really, I should have even more love, grace, and forgiveness for them than I do for non-Christians. Why? Because the people inside that church building are my family members. Regardless of whether or not I know their names, like the same movies, share the same interests, or am in the same stage of life, if they are born again in Christ, then they are my brothers and sisters and I need to treat them as such.

I’m really excited because this Sunday, my church is beginning the ‘small group’ sessions for fall and my husband and I are going to find a group to join so we can start enjoying deeper fellowship with the members of our church. I don’t want to forsake the assembling of the brethren anymore. (Heb.10:25)

I’m eager to start loving my family members the way I’m called to love them, regardless of music volume, hurt feelings, or hypocritical judgments. A very popular phrase I hear is that we are the church. So I would encourage you, if you are dissatisfied with an aspect of your church (not including faulty doctrine, of course) rather than trying to find the right church, ask God to help you forgive your brethren and begin loving on them. Ask Him to help you be the right church. 

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Changing People

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(Originally Published 8/8/13)

We all have people in our lives that make us think, ‘They’ll never change!’ And it can be so frustrating. We watch them hurt themselves, others, and us over and over again by making the same mistakes.

They run into another new relationship even though we warn them this guy/girl is worse than the last one. We get into the same augments with our spouse over money when they max out the credit card again. We fight with our parents over the same old ground.

It seems like nothing we say or do can convince these people that they need to change. So we keep asking ourselves, ‘How can I make them change?!’

I have good news! There is absolutely nothing you can do to change them. People cannot change other people. They simply can’t. You cannot do the Holy Spirit’s job and unless He is working in them to change them, they will not change.

You can yell and kick and scream, you can go over old ground as much as you want, you can be as persistent as a door to door salesman and none of it will work.

Because you don’t know their heart, and it’s not your job or responsibility to change their heart, you have no control over their heart.

The only thing you have any control over is how much you will allow God to work in your heart.

So what are we to do about all the ‘sinners’ we know and love? How will they change without all of our helpful input, advice, and manipulation? What if they go down into the grave still struggling with that one sin that annoys us so much?

There is only one thing that we can do for them, one thing that we have any control over in their lives. And that is whether or not we choose to love them unconditionally.

They may never, ever change in that one area where we want so desperately for them to change and that might hurt us for the rest of our lives. But we have the God-given ability, through His strength in us, to love them through every annoyance, every slight, every hurt, every disagreement, all of it.

And God is ready to help us to do that. We just have to let Him love them through us. Once we accept that it is not in our job description or ability to change someone else’s heart, we will be able to stop killing ourselves to make them change and then we can just love them for who they are. When we learn to let go and love, we can walk in tremendous freedom.


Having it Both Ways

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Last time, I wrote about how we as Christians, instead of being hypocritical, should try to imagine what it’s like for those who don’t know God. We should love on people.

But society would have us head from one extreme to the other and tell people there is nothing wrong with sin.

Today, many people are preaching acceptance and tolerance. The popular conclusion is that either you love everything about someone, or you hate/fear everything about someone. For many, it’s either tolerance or persecution.

In fact, a popular consensus is that Jesus’ main message was peace and tolerance. People who say that obviously haven’t read the Gospels.

Everywhere Jesus went, He healed the sick, cast out demons, and forgave sins. He never once told someone they were just fine the way they were.

When He encountered sick people, He healed them. After He forgave sins, He told those people to “go and sin no more”. He told those who wanted to follow Him that they would have to deny themselves and take up their cross in order to do so.

Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if a doctor said to his severely ill patient, “Oh no, you’re fine just the way you are. We’re not going to change you at all.”? That person would die without the necessary treatments and that doctor would be responsible.

So how can we think that a Righteous and Holy God, who cannot tolerate sin to the degree that He sent His Son to die as an atoning sacrifice, would then teach people that sin is acceptable?

Imagine giving your life in exchange for a cure for someone else’s disease and then telling them they are just fine and don’t need to take it. That’s ludicrous. And that is not Jesus’ message.

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”

Luke 12:51

People do not like to hear that they are doing something wrong. But if we love them, and have compassion on them, we have to tell them. Even if that causes division. Even if it gets us labeled as judgmental hypocrites.

Let people call you that if they want. Just make sure it isn’t true.

As I said last time, make sure you’re preaching God’s Word and not your own set of rules.

You can show someone compassion without tolerating a sinful lifestyle that’s drawing them away from God.

You can give someone grace and tell them to repent before it’s too late.

You can give people selfless, patient love while still hating the sin that’s separating them from God.

satan wants you to believe that it’s either one way or the other. Please don’t believe him. Instead, ask God to work in your heart and love others through you.

Ask Him to fill you so full of His perfect love that it spills over onto everyone you meet, whether they like it or not.

What do you think? Can you love someone without accepting their lifestyle? Or am I way off here? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.


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