(i started this post on sunday and just finished it today…)
Today at church I went to a volunteer orientation for the nursery/preschool department. That’s right, I’m about to join the ranks of nursery workers! I’ve been in children’s ministry all my life. But I’ve probably only actually served in the nursery 12 times total. But they asked for help and I think it was something I had to do. But I’m excited about it–plus I get a cool volunteer t-shirt!
So, after my orientation I text Les to see where he was. I knew I couldn’t find him in the sanctuary, so I decided to join the crying babies and their parents out in the hallway. I saw a good 20 minutes of the sermon and then watched the beginning of it online when I got home.
And it was good.
I hope I can even make sense as I write this. I took about 4 pages of notes. Last week we talked about judging others. Jesus said before we judge we need to look in the mirror first. Convicting stuff.
Onto this week…
When Jesus was on earth, he did things that the people then (and now–us!) just didn’t understand. He would see the religious leaders, the ones who had committed their lives to serving God and He’d blast them! He’d call them names, point out their sins and call them hypocrites. Then he’d walk by and see a horrible sinner and say, “Hey, man. Can we come to your house for dinner? I’d love to be friends.” What is that all about?
See, as Christians, we usually think we should be judging all those “sinners” who smoke, drink and chew and go with girls who do. We tend to think that once we’re Christians, we have “freedom in Christ” and can do what we want. Everyone should just stop judging us and accept our lifestyle!
The problem is…well, that’s not what Jesus said. That’s not what He did.
1 Corinthians 5 is a portion of the letter to the church in Corinth from Paul. Apparently, there was a guy in their church who was sleeping with his step-mom. *gag* This guy hadn’t just slipped up, or was thinking about his step-mom, he had adopted and purposely lived in this lifestyle. The church didn’t rebuke him at all. Paul says they were proud of it! I can’t even understand that–did they think it was cute and funny? Yuck.
Anyway, Paul reprimands them. He says, (my version) “You have it all wrong! This is how you should have reacted: 1. It should have broken your heart. You should be sad that your brother has stepped into this sin. 2. You should have thrown him out of the church. And (verse 5) turned him over to satan.”
Isn’t that judgmental?
Paul then goes on to explain that this man needed to be given to his sinful ways, so that he would hit rock bottom and come running back to Jesus and the church. Where Jesus (and the church) would then welcome him with open arms. Basically, it was going to happen anyway, and because we love this guy, let’s just speed up the process.
That is hard core! Paul continues by reminding them how dangerous sin is. It’s like a little bit of yeast that takes over all the dough. It’s cancerous. It might start small, but it will take over. So, by sending this guy out of the church, he’d realize all that sooner.
Then Paul says, “Hey! I just realized something. The last time I talked to you, I told you not to associate with immoral people. But I didn’t mean the UNchurched immoral people! OBVIOUSLY. You’d have to leave the globe if that was the case. What I meant was you should not associate with CHURCH people who are IMMORAL. Don’t even eat with them.” (amanda’s paraphrase)
The point is, God judges the outsiders. If they don’t accept him, that is between them. So, don’t act like God and start getting all upset with NON CHRISTIANS act like NON CHRISTIANS! What do you expect?! My husband always says this. Why do people start freaking out when there is cussing in movies? Or bad humor? Or gore? Why do we expect people who don’t love Jesus to act like they do? It’s ridiculous and wrongly judgmental. You’re the one going against your conscience by watching the movie. Not them!
The only time we should (and are commanded) to be judgmental is when one of our Christian family (not our family family, I’m talking about church family) chooses to worship the Lord on Sunday and then celebrate their sin all through the week.
Let me give you a personal example. When we were in Florida, we helped start a church. It was our dream job. We went down there knowing we weren’t going to get paid until the church could afford it. We were willing. And we would have been willing to work extra jobs for years if we had to, that’s how much we loved it. So, within a few months our pastor started paying us a little. Maybe enough to pay our rent. The church grew and soon we’d been there for 2 years. Our pay was hit or miss. Then we weren’t getting paid at all. Finally, we couldn’t get money for supplies for church. Then we all (the staff) realized that our Pastor was mishandling the money. He was using the church’s money like it was his own. The church paid for his mortgage, his kid’s cell phones, his wife’s hair appointments. And we were all working 2 jobs and unable to pay for MINISTRY. It was sick. But our initial response was, “Well, he’s not doing it in purpose. He doesn’t realize how broke we all are. He loves us. He loves the church. He’ll stop when we get more money in.” But guess what? It was still sin. And finally we all realized we had to get out. We all quit. We called the leadership above him. They dealt with it and he was let go. Let me tell you, that pastor loves God. He’s a Christian. But he was sinning. And we were right to make someone deal with it. We were judgmental. And we were correct. If we had let it go on, who knows where that sin may have taken him!
Sometimes judging is the loving thing to do. It’s not about punishing someone or humiliating them. It’s about protecting and preserving them. The quicker they realize their sin, the quicker they’ll return to the Lord.
Our pastor ended by reminding us that if this sermon invigorated us and said, “I’m rushing right home to make a phone call to my sinful little brother!” Then you didn’t get it. You need to look in the mirror and take the plank out of your eye. Our response to this lesson and these scriptures should be what Paul said–Number One: Is your heart broken? When you find out about a Christian brother/sister’s sin and your heart is broken, that is the only time you are ready to talk to them.
*whew* Was that good or what? If you really made it all the way to the end, thanks for sticking with it! Our pastor’s heart is that the church’s main audience is the un-churched. So, he doesn’t always preach sermons that hit the i-grew-up-in-the-church-all-my-life people between the eyes. But I think this message spoke loud and clear to both crowds.