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When I was in Bible College I meet an interesting young man by the name of Shannon. What made him interesting were his looks. His hair was a different color each week, his ears were loaded with earrings, and he wore the big loose grunge style clothing. But the most interesting point of style was his shorts, and he always wore shorts regardless of the weather. What made his shorts so odd was the way he wore them. You see he always wore his shorts backwards. As you could imagine anyone who dressed like that at a Bible College stuck out like a sore thumb. One day I couldn’t stand it any longer and my judgmental sarcasm got the best of me and I had to make a crack about his shorts. To my surprise he was ready for my criticism. Shannon turned to me and said, “I’ll tell you Grand Saline (that’s what everyone called be in this certain class) just like I tell everyone else who ask me why I wear my shorts backwards. I tell them that God turned my life around so fast that my shorts couldn’t keep up. Something interesting happened as that semester progressed I began to see through Shannon’s actions, class participation, research papers and prayers that he was a very spiritual man. My initial reaction to Shannon was on of rejection, but when I saw past my bias to his heart, my rejection soon turned to respect.
At a recent wedding I was at a table with many unchurched people, the man beside me was coming back from the open bar with beer two at a time and sitting one of them in front of me so he would not appear to the hosts as being "greedy"
I later found out that a family, one of whom had witnessed this wedding, left our church because of my drinking. I should point out that I was not drinking although that is a matter of personal taste not religious conviction. The truth is I would rather associate with the two fisted beer drinker than the judgmental believer. How will we ever reach the lost if we continue to cling to silly legalist ideas and avoid people while claiming we are avoiding "the appearence of evil"?
I remember an old “Dragnet” television episode back in the mid ‘60s, when the arguments about the dangers or relative safeties of marijuana use were in full bloom. The main character, Sgt Joe Friday, was expounding to a young suspect the harmful effects and results of heroine sale and use, and how in his business he witnessed many times, that so-called innocent marijuana users often graduated to worse things. He ended his tirade by saying, “You want to know what I think of marijuana? I judge it by the company it keeps”.
Christians, people outside of the church do not understand the church. They do not know Jesus; they have absolutely no knowledge of the Holy Spirit; they do not care one iota for the will of the Father; but as they look on, and hear that we call ourselves ‘Christians’, and watch our lives, they will judge us by the company we keep.
And when they look at a church body and witness gossip and judgmental-ism and condemnation, and formalism and ritual, but no love and no peace, they will see no need whatsoever, to separate themselves from the life they have in order to join what is there. They will go away with a shrug, saying, “They are no different, so why waste my time?”
On April 28, 1999, just eight days after the Columbine shooting, shock rock singer Marilyn Manson was scheduled to perform a concert in Iowa City, Iowa. And since Manson’s music
was prominent in the lives of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, there was a lot of emotion surrounding his concert. Mark Forstrom, a local Youth Minister in the area wrote about what happened.
He wrote, "The police, the media, and the community began to prepare for angry protests and ugly brawling between Christians and Marilyn Manson supporters."
Suddenly, something totally unexpected happened. Emerging thru the vehicle of e-mail, another local movement suddenly sprang to life— that the only way to truly change our moral climate is to soften hard hearts. (The hearts of Manson fans have been hardened by
their perception that Christians are mean-spirited, hateful, and judgmental.) Thus, the idea was birthed to unravel that stereotype by encouraging Christians to show the pure LOVE of Christ to these fans in tangible ways.
Concert day finally arrived, and tension filled the community. The media geared up for an ugly battle between Manson fans and the Christian opposition.
Instead, what they observed here was an amazing testament to the power of and love of Christ! Scores of Christians from churches all over Linn County and as far away as Des Moines (2 hours away) converged on the sidewalks outside the Five Seasons Center, to do
two POSITIVE things: pray, and to show unmistakable love. It was a sight to behold.
~ Groups conducted "prayer walks" around the arena.
~ People prayed in huddles on the sidewalk.
~ Churches around the city held special prayer eetings.
As for showing LOVE to the fans,
~ One church purchased 100 pizzas, which were freely given away to the fans in line and bystanders.
~ Cookies and over 1,200 cans of soda were purchased or donated and distributed.
~ Someone made turkey & cheese sandwiches and gave them away.
~ One pastor asked Manson fans who passed by how he could pray for them--about 20 shared specific things & were prayed for on the spot.
~ After the concert, about $200 in cash (collected mostly by a local youth group) was given out to pay for parking in the parking ramp.
The Christians involved said, "We’re Christians and we’d like to show you God’s love by paying for your parking tonight." The
immediate results of this love in action were phenomenal:
~ People continually asked, "Why are you doing this?" and then listened to the answer. ~ Two "live" radio reporters (one inside the stadium and one outside) discussed--on the air--how preferable it was to be outside with the generous Christians.
~ At least 3 people gave their lives to Christ through the loving care of the Christians.
~ At least one other fan that we know of chose...
Denying the existence of evil (or refusing to be judgmental about it) has never proved a reliable method for defeating it. Hell is presumably filled with souls who didnt understand that point.
Illustration: Pumping up balloon - watch what happens when pride is in control of ones life.
Kapteyn helps us see what happens with pride along with some of my observations: Pride is what hurts us in our relationships - in church, in families, (at work, at school), with friends. Pride makes us stubborn - I’m right, she’s wrong - (I know all more about this than they do-they need to listen to me!). Pride stops us from forgiving "I was right she needs to apologize to me not visa versa! Pride makes us put up false fronts "I’m not letting anyone else know my sins and weaknesses" ("I don’t have any problems only those kind of people do! My life is perfect! I don’t make mistakes!) It creates walls of pretension. Pride makes us think we are better or know more than the other. We become proud of what we do, read (or achieve). I am so smart! Nobody could do my job! Look at their picture and mine -no comparison! I have education therefore, I am smarter than you! You cannot speak into my life you don’t have a BS degree. I have more money than most others! I can preach better than he can! I can teach better than he can! I do not need leadership classes "I’m a self made leader!" Look at my success! It makes me work for salvation rather than to receive it freely. It removes grace from God from us, as far as we see it, (We earned our salvation - just look at my works!), and makes us less gracious toward others. We become more judgmental. Pride makes us put others down. We look down on another because he is black or oriental. (Educated or not educated, wealthy or not wealthy, dresses in a suit or not a suit, of a certain denomination or not part of a denomination).
Pride- how is it affecting you? Are you afraid to serve because you may fail? Afraid to share your faith because of what others will think? Afraid to pray out loud because of how you might sound? (Afraid to step out in your spiritual gift because of what others may think?) Afraid to reach out to someone because they might reject you? Afraid to be vulnerable because you might get hurt? Afraid to sing because you might make a mistake? Afraid to?????
If you answered yes to any one of these then you have a problem with pride --- Pride is the sin of placing more importance on self than you do on God or others!
A New Barna report came out this week (Sept 07) :
"The new study shows that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals…
"… Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%)"
R. David Reynolds
As disciples of Jesus, we are to become by the Holy Spirit like our Master as He Himself tells us in Matthew 10:25, “It is enough for the student to be like His Teacher, and the servant like His master.” By the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, may we this Advent become more like Jesus who does not “judge by outward appearances, but looks upon the heart.”
This truth is no more evident than in our relationships with non- believers that the Holy Spirit often give us as divine appointments for leading someone to Jesus, and H. B. London, Jr., and Stan Toler brought that vividly home to me in a story they share in their little book THE MINISTER’S LITTLE DEVOTIONAL BOOK:
“Ron had long hair when it stood for ‘rebel,’ listened to heavy-metal music, drank alcohol, and experimented with drugs. He had also tried church but had been ‘turned off’ by the zeal of a few and the judgmental eyes of others.
“One summer he was hired to work in a lumber yard in California. He was partnered with a skinny, fair-skinned Christian teenager name Joe, who immediately thought Ron was ‘cool.’
“Over the weeks, Ron and Joe laughed, ate, and talked for eight hours a day. Ron drilled Joe about God and the Gospel, but Joe never pretended to know all the answers. One day, Joe asked Ron if he’d like to come over to his house—a beautiful home—for dinner the next night.
“A couple of weeks later, Ron got brave enough to ask Joe over to his small house in a poor neighborhood, where he introduced Joe to some of his favorite music.
“As the summer drew to a close and Joe prepared to return to college, they both knew that their days together at the lumber yard were numbered. As they walked out to the car on Ron’s last day, he looked up at Joe and tearfully said, ‘A lot of people have tried to tell me about Jesus, but Joe, you’re the first person who has shown Him to me” [--H. B. London Jr. and Stan Toler, The Minister’s Little Devotional Book (Tulsa: Honor Books, 1997), 41.].
During Advent join me in asking Jesus, “Lord...
K. Edward "Ed" Skidmore
In his book, The Power of One Another, Bob Russell tells about a young woman who commented to her friends that she thought the lifestyle of a certain Celebrity was “wrong.” Well, she found out that was the “wrong” thing to say! Even though the Celebrity led an openly sinful lifestyle, her friends reprimanded her harshly for evaluating it. In fact, they were very judgmental about her judgmentalism! (p.11)
When Jesus said, “judge not,” he was talking about a “condemning judgment.” Jesus was NOT talking about discernment. In fact, Jesus taught that we need to use our judgment to know right from wrong … true from false, and wisdom from foolishness. Jesus encouraged this discerning type of “judgment.”
In a movie classic - National Lampoon’s Vacation - Chevy Chase - otherwise known as Clark Griswold - leads his family across the country to their dream vacation at Wally World. Along the way, Clark gets lost several times. One time happened to be in St. Louis. After several wrong turns, the houses got dirtier and the skin color got darker, leaving Clark and his family more and more scared. As time wore on, Audrey and her mom started having a very distressed look on their face and asking, “Are you sure you know where we are?” Confidently Clark gave the answer every husband knows by heart, “No problem kids, we’re just getting to see a part of America you don’t see every day.” Right after that, several gun shots went off, and he quickly said, “Roll 'em up.” Their trust in their fearless leader evaporated, and they were scared to death.
Isn’t that the way we end up with our Good Shepherd. At the beginning of the trip like good sheep we say to Jesus, “I’ll follow you wherever you go!” But then Jesus says to kids - “I want you to go the honest way - don’t cheat.” He says to teens - “I want you to take the high road - don’t have sex.” He says to adults - “I want you to take the faithful way - bring your children up in the nurture of the Lord. Have devotions. Be regular in attendance.” And we say, “are you sure Lord? That’s kind of hard.” Then things start getting more difficult, Jesus says to spouses, “be willing to turn the other cheek. Don’t be so judgmental of your spouse.” He says to kids, “don’t be so lazy with your parents. Do your chores.” So we say, “are you sure, Lord?”
The true sign of a sheep is one who is willing to follow - even through the valley of the shadow of death. Sheep are so trusting and so dumb that they don’t really think about where they’re going. They’re so enamored with their Shepherd’s voice that they’re willing to follow him ANYWHERE! Are you a sheep? Are you willing to follow?
SOURCE: From Matthew Haynie’s Sermon: Called To Be A Bondservant