Preachy, Judgmental and Intolerant

April 20, 2012

This past week I have stirred the waters with some comments and questions on Facebook.   I realize that I may be asking for it when I post up a comment or question, but that’s okay with me, I enjoy the discussions and debates.  I don’t even mind being called names some times, as long as they leave my family and my mom out of the comments.  After thinking through some of the comments this past week, a few thoughts crossed my mind about the three words in the title above.

Preachy – When you and I share our opinions it can be offensive, especially when it comes to our faith and beliefs.  The Bible  talks about this in Hebrews 4:12 when it says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ”  The word “dividing” brings the idea of a forced separation, picking sides, or not staying in a neutral position.  While it may be comfortable in the middle and not rocking the boat sooner or later I believe we must put our oars and paddles in the water and choose a direction to go in.  The key to not being preachy is to give someone enough food for thought that they will take a step back and consider what you have said because it was carefully thought out and presented in a nice way.  1 Peter 3:15 commands us as Christians to “do this with gentleness and respect.”  Apologist Greg Koukl uses the phrase “to place a stone or pebble in someone’s shoe.”  If we are not kind or gentle, or respectful it’s as if we smash someone over the head with a boulder.  This will get you nowhere.

Some people don’t understand why Christians share their faith and see it as being pushy or preachy.  Christians don’t see it this way because of our beliefs that we are trying to help our fellow-man see the world through the lens of our worldview and that there is only one true worldview.  Let me use an illustration to help you understand.  As a parent, I teach my kids about the dangers in the world.  To not talk to strangers, to watch out for creepers and child predators because I love them and don’t want them to fall prey to those kinds of people.  In the same way, Christians believe that there is a literal Hell and that we want to do our best to help other people avoid that any way possible.  Mind you that we should respect others beliefs and not force anything on anyone, but it still is a responsibility to help others understand the Bible, the teachings of Christ, and what it takes to receive the gift of eternal life.

Judgmental – Judging is one of those “hot-button” words that brings up a lot of negative thoughts.  Many people including Christians have often quoted Matthew 7:1 that says “Do not judge” or the King James version reads “Judge not.”  If we continue to read after the first three words we see that the Bible is not saying that we cannot judge, it tells us that we will be judged with the same measure that we judge others by and in verse 5 “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ”  The judgment that takes place is to help someone else, not to kick them why they are down.  We must check our attitudes and motives when we speak of someone else.  Is it to build ourselves up or make ourselves look good?  One of the realities to being an associate pastor is that the scriptures preached/taught are not always popular or easy to swallow for everyone, including myself.  BUT, if I am to preach the whole Bible, I can’t take scissors and cut out the parts that I don’t like.  I must make judgments on things from time to time in relation to God’s word.  What things should I post and not post on Facebook/Twitter, How should I be responsible with my possessions, Who should I vote for, Why should I buy or not buy this CD?  Perhaps the key here is given advice when asked and not pushing it on someone who didn’t ask for it.

Intolerant – The last word, intolerant is another popular word used by people when their viewpoints are challenged.  It is a label that almost reaches the level of the word racism in our American culture.  Have you ever considered intolerant as a good word?  It can be.  Mother Teresa was intolerant of poverty and hunger.  The United States was intolerant of the Genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis in WWII.  Some others are intolerant of the mistreatment of animals or child abuse.  Being intolerant just means that you can’t stand for something or that you will not accept it.  Jesus was most intolerant of the religious leaders of His day and held little contempt for them and their actions that led the people away from the truth of God’s word.  Being tolerant doesn’t mean that you have to agree with someone elses viewpoint or opinion.  It just means that you respectful recognize to their own right to a different belief or opinion.  It also  doesn’t mean that they are right, or that you both are right about something.

As Christians we must realize and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in talking with others.  How should we approach them?  Should we build a relationship with them first to earn the right to speak into someones life?  How far should we “push” a topic?  We need to know when we need to stop and walk away for a bit.  Remember even Jesus was not accepted by all and in His own home town he instructed His followers to “wipe the dust off” their feet if they were not accepted.  (Luke 10:10-12)  This is something that is learned the more you interact with people and the better you know who you are talking with.  In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23 it says that “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and ” but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,”  We see  that some will not receive it well, some will look at the cross as foolish or a stumbling block.


A Boy, A Prostitute, and A Murderer

February 25, 2010

OK, quick let’s play a round of try of Tri-Bond.  It’s the game where you list 3 things and then name what they have in common.  So here goes, what do a boy, a prostitute, and a murderer all have in common?    The answer, they were all used by God to do godly things for the Lord.

This post is for me, more than anybody.. Sometimes I have the habit of being very judgmental.  Sometimes it’s on myself and sometimes it’s aimed at others.   If you take some time and thumb through your Bible you will see quite a wide list of people who God choose to use to accomplish His will.   Below is a short summary of a few of the different kind of people who choose to use and the scriptures where you can read about them.

Each of these people had 2 things in common.  1.) They had to learn to let go of their past in order to move forward into what God had asked them to accomplish.  2.) They had to obey God and do what he asked them to do with what resources they had.  Yes, some of them questioned God and wanted to run away from it at first, but they all eventually let go of their past and obeyed God’s desire for their life. 

This is really a 2-sided coin, or rather 2 ways you can look at it.  Sometimes you might not feel like you are not the right person for the job or that you are incapable of doing what you know God has put on your heart, stop listening to the lies of Satan and take a lesson from the many pages of the Bible where God used ordinary, plain, average people to accomplish his will.  I love the scripture “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13.  Give me hope for myself.

On the flip side of the coin, you have to be careful that you don’t make judgments based on the outward appearance or past of people.  God can change people in an instant and with God’s help He can motivate ANYBODY into new areas leadership or accomplishments.  The old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind.

Take the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John 6:1-15.  Keep in mind the 5,000 was only the men counted.  There were other women and children there as well.  Jesus saw were the crowd was tired and hungry and he wanted to meet their needs.  He asks the disciples; “Where will we get food for these people to eat?”   I love the response of Phillip, “8 months wages would not buy enough for all these to have a bite!”  Then comes Andrew, Andrew was always a man bringing people to Jesus.  He brought his brother Peter to Jesus, and now he was bringing this little boy to Jesus who had 2 loaves of bread and 5 fish.  Andrew didn’t know what would happen and how it would happen but he knew that Jesus had the answers.  Be an Andrew in your life.  Always look for people who God can use no matter what they look like or what they have in the way of resources, education , social class, race, etc…

Also be like this little boy who didn’t have much, but he was willing to give it to Jesus to help or be part of the solution.  That’s what God wants from us, only what we have, and not any more.  Are you willing to give up all you have to let God do something great with it?  Will you be like Moses (a murderer)  or Rahab (a prostitute) and let go of your past and do what God has called you to do and let him use you to accomplish something great?