These past 10 days or so have been a little difficult. I have found myself in the awkward and uncomfortable position of having to correct a couple of my fellow Christians regarding their actions, which is never fun. I keep asking myself the same question: “What is wrong with these people? Why can’t they do what Christ teaches them to do?”
Judgmental? Yes and according to scripture, appropriately so.
Does that surprise you? I know for some in my church it does! But scripture is very clear that we as the body of Christ are to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), rebuke one another (Luke 17:3), and judge one another (1 Corinthians 5:9-12) in order to keep one another faithful to the teachings of Christ. But this all must be done based on scripture alone and done in love and gentleness. But it must be done.
I’ll admit that many churches, including my own, fall short of holding people accountable to Jesus in their walk. We act as if everyone’s walk with Jesus in their own individual and private endeavor which it was never meant to be. Scripture is full of examples of how our faith walk is a corporate life not an individual adventure (See Jesus and the 12 disciples or Paul and his fellow workers).
But to keep the peace, most of us in church ignore bad behavior or if we do address it we do so in such a way that it is so generalized that the person engaged in such behavior doesn’t even know it’s them we’re talking about! And yes, I’m as guilty of that as anyone.
Until this past week.
I don’t know if I’m just burning out and getting cranky or if I’ve just had it with trying to teach people the right stuff and being ignored, but two different situations came up where I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to speak forcefully into these people’s lives.
I’m not going to go into detail here about what the issues where – that wouldn’t be ethical or fair. But the point I made to the people involved was basically this: Stop calling yourself a Christian if you’re not even going to try to act the way Christ taught you to act.
I’m not the only one tired of seeing so-called Christians come to church and Bible studies and then just plain ignore the teachings and live their lives – and especially in their relationships – as if they’ve never heard the gospel or any of the commands of Jesus.
Craig Groeschel did an excellent series called Christian Atheists where he outs all those “Christians” who actually live their lives as if there is no God.
Francis Chan did an outstanding short on how we as believers think God is unreasonable because He doesn’t do things the way we would do them so we write Him off in many areas of our lives in favor of our own thinking.
Andy Stanley did a series call Christian – It’s Not What You Think It Is where he shows us that Christian can mean anything you want it to mean – it’s not defined in the Bible. That’s why there are “Christians” on every side of every political issue, every war, and every moral issue. But, he says, Jesus never used that word; He used the word “Disciple” which is extremely well-defined. Jesus tells us that people will know we are His disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:35), and Andy tells us that we must live our lives based on one question: What does love require of me?
Philip Yancey has written books and preaches on Grace and how it is completely missing from our Christian dialogue.
Even my own pastor, Bret Truax, preached recently on Matthew 7:21, which I believe is the most frightening piece of scripture in the Bible. Jesus tells us that many will call Him Lord but He will say He never knew you. In other words, there are Christians out there thinking they are following Jesus when in fact they never had a relationship with Him (He never knew you) because they didn’t love Him by doing what He commanded.
So let me get to the point:
You don’t get to hate someone as a Christian
You don’t get to ascribe motives to people as a Christian
You don’t get to be angry with someone (without plans to reconcile) as a Christian
You don’t get to hold on to grudges as a Christian
You don’t get to blame other people for things that are your responsibility as a Christian
You don’t get to choose your pride over Jesus’ commands as a Christian
You don’t get to spread rumors and gossip about people as a Christian
You don’t get to bad mouth people as a Christian
You don’t get to harm others physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually as a Christian
You don’t get to think your ways are right and God’s ways are wrong as a Christian
You don’t get to live your life anyway you want to as a Christian – you were bought for a price!
You don’t get to withhold forgiveness from someone as a Christian
You don’t get to avoid fellow brothers and sisters as a Christian
You don’t get to withhold reconciliation with someone with whom you have a problem as a Christian
You don’t get to think you’re better than someone as a Christian
You don’t get to withhold grace from someone as a Christian
You don’t get to judge a fellow brother or sister without talking with them about the issue as a Christian
You don’t get to be a hypocrite as a Christian (judging others when not fighting your own sin issues)
You don’t get to pick and choose what you believe in Scripture as a Christian
You don’t get to try to find the loop-hole in your faith to do as you want as a Christian
You don’t get to call yourself a Christian and act like a non-believer
Christianity isn’t for sissies. It is extremely difficult and we all fail every day! But if you want to call yourself a Christian – a follower and disciple of Jesus – you MUST work at it. You must fight your sin, humble yourself and seek forgiveness from God and others when you fail. And you must do everything you can do follow the commands of Jesus, which begins by loving God and loving others and then following all the teachings Jesus gave us in the Gospels and through the apostles.
So to my fellow brothers and sisters in the faith: I implore you with all love and sincerity to knock it off! Stop acting like the world acts and start being the person God created you to be! Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you by releasing your pride and defense mechanisms and trusting in God in a way you never have before. Fight the good fight – love at all times and repent when you fail. Stop giving more value to your rights, your ego, and your feelings than you give to your savior. By this they will know you are His disciple.