Sunday, August 29, 2010

Judgmental Christians

This one is going to make some people angry.

That is not the reason why I am writing it, though. Lately I have seen so many people getting bent out of shape and yelling that Christians can’t judge them. “Only God can judge me!”

By the way, if you are having to constantly make yourself feel better by saying that, you are probably doing something wrong.

Is this idea true? Can only God judge? Well, if you want to be technical, Jesus said that God has passed all judgment on to Him. But are Christians forbid from judging? Every time someone’s Facebook status is “Only God can judge me,” they usually follow it up with Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Standing alone, that verse certainly seems like a universal command to not judge anybody. But the passage goes on to say that we will be judged back by others when we judge (I thought only God judges us!). The whole “get the log out your own eye before you judge the speck in mine” argument is really foolish. Jesus finishes that verse by saying to get the log out your eye, THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.

How do you know there is a speck in your brother’s eye? By making a judgment.

What Jesus is condemning is hypocritical judgments—those made by people living in sin themselves. This is like a man who looks at pornography or a woman who sleeps with her boyfriend judging a homosexual. You are in no position to make a judgment when you yourself are living in sin.

Judgment is also condemned when it is done for the purpose of trying to make the person feel bad, or to make you feel better about yourself. Jesus said to remove the speck in your brother’s eye; we do this to make them better.

Don’t pretend you never judge people. If you wake up at 2:00 AM to a noise outside your window, and you investigate the noise and see a man dressed all in black wearing a ski mask and holding a giant bag with a dollar sign on it, what would you do? You’d better not call the cops. After all, only God can judge him.

In John 7:24 Jesus said “Judge not according to the appearance of man, but judge righteous judgment.” What? A command to judge? From Jesus?

*For the record, the outward appearance here doesn’t refute the armed robber from the previous paragraph; Jesus is referring to judging a book by its cover and writing people off. By the way, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge it on its content.
The reason we prefer the “judge not” sermon over the actual command of Jesus is that the former frees us to live however we want to without conviction, while the latter puts the ball in our court to keep any logs out of our eyes. It also sets us up to be judged back.

Most people are familiar with the passage for church discipline found in Matthew 18:15-20; that is the passage that says we go to someone one on one, then with a few witnesses, then before the church. Verse 15 clearly says that if your brother sins against you, go to him privately about the matter. Yet whenever that happens today, all we hear about is, “You can’t judge me!”

Remember, we are not the judgment police, constantly on patrol to find someone to judge. I know we are constantly branded as being agents of hate who think we are perfect, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The only reason we “judge” is to make people better. If a professing Christian is doing something wrong, Galatians 6 tells us to help them get right.

When people lovingly show me an area where I need to get better, I may not like hearing it, but as a Christian I ultimately appreciate it and welcome the chance to become more like Christ. What Christian wouldn’t?

So if there is a log in your eye, remove it. And once you have, if you see a speck in your brother’s eye, lovingly help them remove it.

If a brother is lovingly helping you remove your own speck, don’t blast them (or use a Facebook status) about not being able to judge; they are just doing what Jesus commanded and trying to make you better.

If you plan on leaving a negative comment, please remember that only God can judge my blogs.

(Read Dogmatic Christians here)
(Read Close-Minded Christians here)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Closed-Minded Christians

One of the most common insults hurled at Christians these days is that they are closed-minded. Critics of Christianity label Christians as already having their minds made up, and therefore they will not consider the “facts.” By facts they are usually referring to pseudo-science or fraudulent inventions to promote evolution. “If only these Christians were more open-minded,” they lament, “then they would learn the truth.”

Despite the fact that there is a mountain of evidence which supports Creation, and the fact that there is not one verifiable fact that proves Darwinism, these atheists remain closed-minded to the possibility of Intelligent Design. But we expect to get criticized by the lost world; Jesus said that would happen. The thing that bothers me is when liberal Christians call other Christians closed-minded.

This new brand of “anything-goes” Christianity features no absolute truth. Each person is free to interpret the words of Jesus however he sees fit, and this open-mindedness is supposed to be appealing to the unchurched. They pride themselves on the fact that they respect each opinion and do not assume any one belief to be superior over another.

But there is a time to be open-minded.

The Bereans were in Acts 17:11. Luke wrote that they were “more noble” than the Thessalonians, and that they received the Word with “readiness of mind.” This would be like saying they were open-minded today. So was being open-minded a good thing? Absolutely! Read the next verse:

“Therefore, many of them believed.” Because they were open-minded they received the Word, believed it, and gave their lives to the Lord. But don’t miss this important truth.

They were not Christians when they were open-minded. They had not believed yet. And because their minds were opened Paul was able to present the gospel to a ready audience. So what should happen to their minds after they believe? They should be closed! I know that it is OK to keep an open mind to things that can change, like music and dress styles, but there are plenty of things that we should keep our minds closed to.

I am a closed-minded Christian when it comes to how to get to heaven. Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the way, truth, and life, and that no one gets to the Father except through Him. If some liberal with a new idea or interpretation or hidden message finds a new way to the Father, my mind will remain closed.

I am closed-minded when it comes to the Person of Jesus Christ. I believe He is the only begotten Son of God, born of a virgin, and that He lived a perfect life, suffered a vicarious death, was raised from the dead by God, and now is seated at God’s right hand.

I am closed-minded about salvation. It is a gift from God, not of works, that was settled before the foundation of the world, and yet still required my choice. Good works can not earn it, but good works will come from it. All who claim salvation for themselves must first deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow after Jesus with nothing less than 100% surrender.

There are many other things that my mind will remain closed to. God said it, and that settles it; my mind is closed.

Ephesians 4:14 warns of spiritual babies who get carried away with every wind of doctrine from the sleight of crafty men who lie in wait to deceive. When asked for a sign of the end of times, Jesus’ first response was not about war or weather, but about false doctrine that would be so strong that it would almost deceive the very elect of God. False prophets abound as wolves in sheep’s clothing, and if we keep our minds open to new and exciting religion, we might just end up following a wolf instead of the Good Shepherd.

In light of all this, whose idea do you think it was to encourage Christians to keep an open mind, Jesus’ or Satan’s?

I believe it was Satan’s, and I will remain closed-minded about that.

(Read Dogmatic Christians here)
(Read Judgmental Christians here)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Real Liberalism

Many times in my blogs and other writings I have referred to liberals or liberalism, and I feel that those terms need to be defined. When I have made comments like saying that militant recycling is a liberal idea, I have been criticized for trying to make something spiritual into a political debate (which is not true—liberal politicians beat me to it). But what I think most people do not realize is that being liberal is not necessarily a political label.

The word liberal just means to be “tolerant” and “not strict.” The opposite of being liberal is being conservative, which means “traditional” and “cautious.” Each person is either liberal, conservative, or somewhere in the middle, and politics is only one area in which this happens. In the realm of politics, when a person looks at the Constitution, he must decide for himself if he will interpret the document cautiously or with more tolerance. For example, when it comes to abortion, the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to life and makes no mention of being able to murder any unwanted baby. A person with a conservative view would be traditional in what the Constitution says and would be very cautious about ever giving anyone the right to kill a baby. On the other hand, someone with a liberal view would be more tolerant, and not being strict, he would allow for a new law that murders the unborn.

When it comes to science we must also decide if we will be conservative or liberal. With issues like evolution, embryonic stem cell research, and man-made global warming, the science shows us that evolution is laughable, embryonic stem cells won’t cure anything, and man is not responsible for destroying the planet. If someone is conservative and sticks to the evidence, he will come to accurate conclusions. A person would have to be quite liberal to look at the mountain of evidence against evolution and still think it could be true.

Being liberal is not always a bad thing. I even consider myself to be liberal in some areas. For instance, when it comes to dress code in the church, I take a more liberal approach than others. My grandparents’ generation believed that a man must always wear a suit and a lady must always wear a nice dress. A traditional conservative person would still hold to that belief today, but someone who is more tolerant has no problem relaxing the dress code (as long as it is still modest). Even though I usually wear a suit on Sunday morning, I do that because I like to, not because I believe there is something spiritual about it.

The Bible even says that God can be liberal. In James 1:5 we are told that if we lack wisdom then we only need to ask God for more. If we do, God will give us wisdom “liberally,” meaning that He is not strict with it. So in and of itself being liberal is not a bad thing.

But more often than not liberalism leads people away from what is right. When it comes to the Constitution, we are dealing with a completed document, so a cautious, traditional approach is usually best. The same is true with the Bible; God’s Word was completed 2,000 years ago, so we should also approach it with caution. A liberal tolerates new interpretations of its timeless passages, but a conservative would not. Let’s look at some of the teachings of Jesus.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).”

“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).”

“If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).”

These are just a few of the commands of Jesus, and we haven’t even touched on the writings of Paul or the Ten Commandments. But when you look at these words from Jesus do you take a conservative or a liberal approach? Our lives would be much easier if we could interpret these teachings liberally, but our eternity will be better if we interpret them conservatively.

What gives people the right to think that they can take the words of Jesus and tolerate new interpretations to them? Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean that the words of Jesus can be redefined. If we love Jesus, we need to keep His commandments, no matter how hard that may be. And when our culture tells us to keep our faith to ourselves, we must stick to the command to teach all nations. Just because most professing Christians only act like Christians on Sundays, we still have a command to be the light of the world. Getting even and hating enemies is what comes naturally to us, but we must stick to the truth of Jesus to only show love. And when everyone’s favorite cop out is “no one is perfect,” that doesn’t give us the right to reinterpret the command from Jesus to strive for perfection.

As you live your life, are you working hard to rightly interpret God’s Word the way that God intended it, or are you taking the easier route and tolerating any new interpretation that comes down the pike?

Following Jesus requires denying yourself and giving Him your life (another command from Jesus in Matthew 6:24).

So feel free to give your life to Him liberally.