In the last three or four weeks I have had a small number of exchanges with other people that has led me to re-evaluate my approach with regard to the manner in which I articulate my exchanges with others on various topics where there may be disagreements in biblical interpretation or differences in methodology.
I should mention that in the vast majority of the very few confrontational conversations I have with others, I am deliberately non-accusatory to their person. In other words, I do not actively engage in addressing any perceived shortfalls that I have observed in their personal general witness to our Lord. And there are a couple of really good reasons for that. Number one is that, this is not the prime reason why I write this plog, e.g., to criticize others, my goal is to lift, not tear down, and number two, I am far from being perfect myself.
I endeavour to be polite and avoid personal accusations at all costs, focusing rather on the particular area of contention being discussed, rather than resorting to name calling or other forms of personal attack. We are ambassadors for Christ and our conduct towards others, even those with whom we disagree, should bring credit to our Lord and not dis-credit.
I should also state at the onset that I believe that it is NOT my responsibility to be judgemental with regards to those who do NOT share our Christian faith. I do believe that we are instructed to exercise discernment within the body of Christ but when it comes to those who are outside of the body of Christ, God alone exercises His own authority in those areas. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV refers.
The question that many have, with regard to judging or not judging, continues to be a bone of contention with some within the body of Christ. This link provides what I think, is a well balanced overview on this particular subject and I would strongly encourage you to take the time to go through it, if you have the time.
In some of the discussions I have had with others during the last three of four weeks, some have identified me as being judgemental, a nitpicker, a legalist, and other associated non-complementary word descriptions. Throughout these exchanges there has been a general theme or prevalent thought being voiced by those who take exception to observations or differences of opinion that I have expressed.
The general theme or paraphrased prevalent thought I have encountered is as follows: “it is not our responsibility to identify or criticize others within the Christian community when it comes to areas of the transgression of God’s laws (sin) or His will for them.” This is also sometimes accompanied by inferring that “the simplicity of the Gospel and Jesus Christ is all that is required and going beyond that is not only not necessary but also usually leads to religious hypocrisy“. I’ve also heard it said that “if we can lead people to Jesus, and they come to truly know Him, Jesus will take care of the rest“.
If I could find any of the aforementioned detailed in the New Testament I could agree with those statements, but unfortunately I cannot. In fact, I find the exact opposite.
I could provide a good number of the scripture verses that admonish us to judge within the Church and to exercise discernment but these two links will suffice:
I think it is important to acknowledge that I am acutely aware that all of the theology, doctrines, or schools of thought that I may lean towards or believe, may in fact, not be correct. That’s where discussion comes in and the acceptance of others, even though we may have differing understanding on topics such as creationism, predestination, free will and the end times etc. But that acceptance does not include corrupted doctrines that argue against the basic tenets of Christianity or the avoidance of our responsibilities with regard to Church discipline as clearly advocated within the New Testament.
Do I earnestly endeavour to proceed with extreme caution, adhering to all of the guidelines that the New Testament provides, including that the motivation for all that I do or say is rooted in love? I try. I try real hard and sometimes I am more successful that others. I have apologized when I have erred and I have erred. That’s how we learn and I was fortunate enough to be forgiven by a Christian who was more mature than myself. Mercy begets mercy, compassion begets compassion and leniency begets leniency. I get it. If I have received it, I must also give it.
Being critical or making sound judgements based on biblical principles is not a fun activity because you know that you are basically setting yourself up for opposition when you go against the flow. It’s not an enjoyable activity. That’s why I try to do my homework, do the research that is required, question myself before I question others, examine myself so that I don’t pronounce a judgment on myself when I raise an objection or question someone else.
And there can appear to be conflicting directions. Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matt 7:1,2). Likewise in Luke (6:37) – “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” But now read what Paul says, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” (1Cor 2:15). And then we have 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 as noted above.
So when I do question, it is a considered question, when I do object, it’s because what someone is saying does not agree with the whole of scripture and so I ask them to defend their position. Most times they don’t directly respond to the noted inconsistency, they just start with the negative general accusations and name calling. There is no real discussion because there is no real defence. It happens. But sometimes you just have to do what you just have to do. Fortunately that “sometimes” isn’t all that often. But it happens too.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!