Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Big Problem

There's something that has been on my heart for quite some time, and I've been putting off writing about it. I want it to be just right, to get my point across thoroughly. It's time to jump in and just write, see where it goes. The topic is judgementalism within the church. Let's face it. It's a problem. A big problem. So big, that it turns people away from the church, keeps unbelievers from even finding interest in the church. It's outrageous, some of the things Christians do in the name of Christ. I'm sure most of us have experienced it. For me, having grown up in the church, I didn't see it often as a child. It really hit in high school. I was a bit of an oddball in high school. I wore bondage pants from Hot Topic, lots of black band tee shirts, and studded belts and jewelry. Dyed my hair blue, purple, red. Those kinds of things. Some of the people at my small town church thought I was going off of the deep end. And honestly, at that point in my life, I wasn't. I was putting my toe in the water, trying to figure out what kind of a person I wanted to grow into. But because I wore all of this dark clothing, some church leaders decided I wasn't welcome to participate in certain church events unless I dressed "normal". Honestly, this kind of judgement was part of the reason I turned away from Christ, from the church. I thought if I was drunk and crazy enough at parties, people would accept me for who I was and keep inviting me to party with them. It worked, I went to a lot of parties, acted like a buffoon a lot, kept getting invited back. The hard part was when I wasn't at a party, my drinking friends didn't want to be REAL friends. They wanted to get drunk together, then live our separate lives during the days. It was more than lonely. It was heartbreaking for someone who was just looking for a place to belong. So after a few years, Jesus found me in a lonely, crumpled heap, crying out for someone to love me. He always has, I just couldn't see it through the sludge being thrown at me by judgmental Christians. Hypocrites really. The Bible (which is to be our standard of living) tells us in Matthew 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

I understand, we are all sinful humans. But I really feel this is one aspect of our lives that, as Christians, we should be EXTREMELY careful about. We have a higher standard of living. Yes, every person on this earth has a problem with judging others. But as a whole, we shouldn't be known for excluding people just because they are different, or just because we think they are being sinful. How is that helpful for anyone involved? It makes the church look pompous, and makes the person being judged lose interest in the One who sacrificed it all to save us from those very sins. Sin is between a human and Christ. The church, as a whole, should be there to support someone struggling with sin. If the sin is dangerous to others within the church, then something should be done. But excluding the person from the fellowship that encourages them to seek Christ, the ONLY Savior from their sin? Absolutely the wrong approach.

A very close friend experienced horrible judgement at the hands of her church some years ago. At this point, she was experimenting with some difficult things, drinking, drugs, the like. One night, she and her best friend were out partying, and her friend decided to drive them home drunk. They were in a terrible car accident, and her best friend passed away. After this tragedy, my friend was completely broken, both inside and out. Her church didn't stand up to support her, be there for her, help her through this hard time, or find help to remove her from this sinful lifestyle, as any Bible believing church should (Matthew 25:35, Galatians 6:2). Instead, they told her that she should "take a break from church". In her darkest hour, the place that should have been there to provide comfort for her, dumped her in the street. Talk about opposite of God's teachings! So now, 3 and 1/2 years later, she is taking the first steps of potentially attending a new church. (P.S. Remember what this blog started out as? Me wanting to invite people to church. Well, this fine lady is my first success! WOO!!!) Anyway...while Christians are encouraged to reprimand each other in love (Galatians 6:1, 2 Timothy 4:2), we are not called to throw those who need us the most out the door.

I understand, it is difficult living in times like these. Times where we, as Christians, are judged to the extreme. Sometimes it is hard to be public about our faith, for fear of snide remarks, sideways glances, etc. Welcome that judgment, it means Satan is feeling threatened and doing his best to cut you down. God never said being a Christian would be easy. He just said it would be worth it.

To the person seeking the hope and joy of Christ—not all Christians are as hard to please as those mentioned above. It's the bad apples of the group that make the rest of us look bitter. Please don't let the Pharisees keep you from the only true peace you will ever find. Keep searching, the Lord will direct your path.

Christians—live up to the higher standard He expects of us. Accept those who are different from you (Romans 14:1-4) People will notice a difference in you and seek what God, through you, can reveal to them.


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