Recent experiences, in combination with the Lincoln movie has me thinking… Unity is a status achieved and maintained through battle. Unity never just happens. The Civil War was a Unity Fight. The fight for unity includes casualties. Groups that refuse to draw a line of Unity for fear of causing casualties will never have unity and actually cause greater casualties. Strange to think that unity is a product of partisanship. The day where 100% of all people in existence are in Unity is the day where everybody stands for nothing. It takes backbone to DRAW A LINE of unity. Unity is an act of division. The division sign is a dot divided by another dot. The division sign is one united group divided by another united group. Unity only happens through division/battle. Unity separates to gather. Only the courageous stand for unity. Draw your line and stand lovingly strong. Its a rare character trait today. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” In this Christmas season, do not forget that this “Prince of Peace” was the great Unifier! Man, he caused incredible division. What a Battle He fought for Unity. There were casualties. Are you like Him?
Hydrate — Winning from the inside 33 (Matthew 7:1-2) Judging
Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
If I am speaking the truth about you, and that truth hurts, am I judging you? It is of my opinion that our world has led people to believe that if you even raise your voice and get intense in speaking your thoughts that you are judging and out of order and you should be reprimanded. I have found that those who hold what I call “positional power”(which isn’t Christ-like influence) get very upset when they are held accountable, called out, confronted, or put in their place. When this happens, those of positional power cry from the rooftops that you are judging, arrogant, unholy or just lying. They do this because there is no other defense as their back is up against the wall and their positional power seat is beginning to collapse under the truth. Do I sound judgmental? I think I do. Here’s where I stir it up. Its okay to judge people. At the first reading of Matthew 7:1-2 it seems to read that it is wrong/evil to judge someone. Jesus doesn’t say that at all. What He is saying is this, “If you don’t want to be judged you should not judge.” Here’s the deal. The Bible never contradicts itself. Turn from this passage in Matthew to the Apostle Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 5. Verse 12 says it all. “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.” Did I read that right? Did the Bible just tell me that its okay, in fact, that I should judge some?
You’ll have to judge for yourself whether or not you think the current condition of the average church around the world is in trouble or unhealthy. I think it is. I love the Church, and I acknowledge that she will never be perfect until Jesus returns. Even in the lack of health and ugliness, I still think the Church is beautiful. I also think that we can improve some of the Church’s ugliness, but not until we acknowledge the reasons behind it. I think, one of the first reasons of the ugliness, is that Church leaders and Christians have fallen prey to false teaching and have fallen prey to atrophy due to political correctness. The second reason is that we have reversed the order of Judging that Jesus exemplified for us.
I recommend that you do a Bible Study through your favorite gospel. In the study, watch how different groups of people responded to Jesus when He taught. From my perspective of such a study, I consistently see Jesus teaching, pretty much, the same principals throughout His 3 year ministry. However, there were two very opposite responses to this narrow message. The unholy were frequently and magnetically attracted to Jesus. The Religious were frequently and repulsively respondent to Jesus.
Am I incorrect in my judgement that in this 21st Century we have reversed this phenomenon? It seems, to me, that the religious today are fanatically attracted with one another and with Jesus and those who are far from Jesus want to get even farther from Him and His followers.
Who Changed? What changed? Jesus didn’t. The Bible is clear about that. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So what happened?
A majority of Christians changed.
In my opinion, the average Christian has not only ignored Jesus’ teaching on Judging, but has taken it upon themselves to reverse the command in 1 Corinthians 5 and has gone out into the world to judge those who are far from God. Screaming from mega-phones that their evil behavior will send them to eternal damnation, or quietly from their corner offices force feeding biblical verses down the throats of those who think the Bible is a work of fiction. Christians telling unchurched people their behavior is wrong, demonstrating to a lost and confused world that Jesus is argumentative and demands rule following. This slow and steady unintentional reversal of this holy mandate has left the Church, in the eyes of the secular, impotent. In a take off of C.S. Lewis, this tragic flip-flop has castrated the stallion in hopes the gelding fairs well in reproduction.
I think that the average Christian verbally, but mostly non-verbally, demands that people who are far from Jesus Christ must first believe before they can belong. It is also of my opinion that those who do this, fit right into the mold of a Pharisee. Do you believe that people far from God must first believe in Jesus before they can belong to your friendship and love and circle of friends? Too many church people may say one thing, but their life choices and judgmental behavior toward people who are far from Christ, proves otherwise. This must change.
I believe, in large part, that this can only be corrected when those who are biblically mandated to lead, return back…repent…to a Jesus-Like style of leadership and teaching. I love the passage in Ephesians 4:11-16. (HCSB) This passage shows nearly a complete picture of how the church is to function in its leadership style and strategy.
“11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head —Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”
Imagine what could happen if those who have been called by God to be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers, began to re-reverse the trend back to the high challenge of holy living and holding ourselves as Christians accountable to it. When was the last time you heard your church leader speak about sin? When was the last time you heard from a pulpit that Christians must stop sinning and live holy lives?
Some of you, at this point in this read, have been so seduced into this non-judgmental, politically correct Church world that you can’t believe that I wrote that Christians should stop sinning. You might be guilty of thinking that the Bible says no such thing, because you heard in your Bible study or in the last 52 sermons that we are all “sinners saved by grace.” Did you know that exact phrase is not in the Bible? Most will quote Romans 3:23, where Paul says, “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” Where does that passage say you are a sinner saved by Grace? Most preachers that preach what I call Ultra Grace Theology, use that passage, but they don’t keep reading into the next verse. Verse 24 says, “they need to be made FREE from sin through Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:34 says, “Start thinking about what is right and stop sinning.”
Titus 2:11-15 says, “11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. 15 You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.”
Romans 6:14, “14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” (Grace helps you stop sinning…it doesn’t give you a free ticket to sin.) Forgive me as I say, “Duh!”
What sin must you commit today? (Murder? Envy? Gossip? Theft? Adultery? Drunkenness? Slander?) Which sin is a guarantee for you to commit today?
What sin, when you are tempted by it, is guaranteed to win today? Sin, isn’t the one that is guaranteed to win. Holiness in Jesus Christ is the champion! Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!” Do you believe that verse? Then keep your eyes on Jesus and venture out into this crazy world and kick sin in the testicles when it tempts you. Nobody is forcing you to sin. No…the ones who preach that you can live however you want, as they say, because you are an imperfect sinner saved by Grace, are the ones who have either corrupt theology or they can’t look themselves in the mirror and thus they have to preach a heavy message of Grace to justify their lifestyle. Is that Judgmental of me to say? I say yes. The judgmental side of 1 Corinthians 5. As Christians we’ve got to begin saying these things to each other and stop saying these things to those who don’t even believe Jesus is Lord yet. Please, Judge Correctly and in a holy Biblical way!
So, if the Bible says that we are to stop sinning then does that mean we can be perfect? The answer is a resounding no! Being imperfect is very different than committing sin under an umbrella of ultra false grace.
Don’t forget that in 1 John 5:17, “All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.”
Let’s clarify what that verse means. Imagine an archer trying to hit the bullseye with his bow and arrow. When the archer intentionally aims at the bullseye, fires and misses…literally…that miss used to be called “sin.” Sin means to miss the mark. When a Christian who is living under the free gift of Salvation, through the accepted blood of Jesus Christ, keeps his/her eyes on Jesus (bullseye) and lives intentionally to please Him, but falls in an accidental sin, that is a sin that leads not unto death. Why? Because the person who sinned intentionally aimed at the bullseye and simply missed. Motives matter! Intentions are motives.
Now here’s the big difference. Imagine that same archer, aiming for a few seconds at the bullseye, but before he releases the arrow, intentionally turns 90 degrees and lets the arrow fly away from the bullseye…that is still called a sin…but it has tremendous other results. That kind of “sin” is how people die. Thus, according to 1 John 5:17, this is a sin that leads to death. This is a sin that was intentional, pre-meditated. This is the kind of sin that Hebrews 10:26-27 speak of. “26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.”
This is the kind of sin that Paul tells us to Judge each other about! It saddens me that I have never, in my 42 years of life, ever been in a worship service where the preacher referenced this passage of Hebrews 10:26-27. This is the kind of sin where, after reading the Hebrews passage above, you almost think there is no forgiveness for it. However, we know this is not the case. This kind of sin is where the details of 1 Corinthians chapter 5 kick in. This is where we as Christians, if it’s necessary to make the person realize how eternally dangerous their intentional sin is, we should ask the person to change his/her behavior or kick them out of the church. What? You Scream! If you are struggling with this and think that it is unloving, unchrist-like or absurd…please read 1 Corinthians 5 in its short entirety.
Frankly, I love you too much to let you skirt away through your life without reminding you of the “horrible” passages of Hebrews 10 and 1 Corinthians 5. And, I love you so much, that I will risk you being angry at me and calling me judgmental because I, lovingly, called you out when I noticed you were sinning in a way that Christians should never sin.” I love you so much, that under the right circumstances, I would ask you to leave the church I lead. Is that judgmental? Yes. Is that love? Yes. A true christian is commanded in the Holy Bible to behave this way amongst fellow Christians. (Now I know this sets up a whole other argument as to what sin is and what it is not. I have people, who often get caught up in legalism with one another, take the Gospel/Cultural Test. If you don’t know that is, then we have to meet someday and you can ask me to take you through this wonderful test.) It will clarify very quickly what Christians should and should not judge each other over! …back to point…
I have been accused of judging others as I raised my voice to selfish and sinful action among Christian leaders.
I have been accused of being crazy and arrogant because I called out obvious sin in a group of people who declare they are christian and even more so, christian leaders.
I did it because I love them. Jesus didn’t ask you and me to be popular amongst one another as Christians. He commands us to live holy lives, to lead by example and to hold each other accountable to a high and holy standard. He asked us to do all this in love. But don’t forget that the One who is called Love…Jesus Himself…made a whip one time. Other time called the religious leaders foul names. Was that love? Of course it was!
Jesus is coming back. He paid a huge price so that we no longer have to be controlled by sin.
Those who willingly keep on sinning after declaring that Jesus is Lord and Lord of their lives, must be lovingly judged by the Church. (You are the Church!)
Jesus says, if you don’t want to be judged, then don’t judge.
He never said that it is wrong to judge.
He said whatever measure you use to judge, will be used against you.
That’s a pretty good checks and balances system, if you ask me!
I must be very careful with this issue. The next blog will be about Jesus possibly nailing me because I judged someone’s small sin while had a huge sin in my own life.
HYDRATE – Winning from the Inside 32 (Matthew 6:25-36) Worry
Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-36, 25 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God* above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Jesus also said in Luke 12:25(NLT)
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Jesus spoke a lot about worry in just these two passages. I don’t have much more to say about worry than what Jesus already said. If I had more to say than what Jesus already said, then I would ‘worry’ that I might think I’m smarter than Jesus.
So, let me ask you 3 questions…
Do you worry? Are you worried about something?
How is all the worry working for you?