Yes, I know it’s Wednesday and I’m just posting my Sunday sermon recap. I almost just skipped it but these last 2 weeks have been so good, I didn’t want to miss out on it.
This whole series is about judging people. The un-churched think this is something church people do all the time. That we (the churched) look down our noses at people with tattoos, piercings, numerous sexual partners and a fridge full of alcohol. This is a pretty true assessment. The church has judged the un-churched for no reason. Jesus turns the table and says, “Look, you don’t have the right to judge them because look at all the sin in your own life!” Jesus wants the church to accept and love and spend time with the un-churched, not alienate them. But at the same time, the church does need to be doing some judging. We need to be judging our own. Last week the main idea was that sometimes judging is the loving thing to do.
Matthew 18:12-17 is a passage about how to judge others. Yes, a how-to guide on how to judge someone. Sounds fun, huh?
Well, Jesus starts out talking about a shepherd who has 100 sheep. One of these sheep wander away and Jesus asks the crowd what they think the shepherd will do. Everyone knows that the shepherd will leave the 99 to go look for this one little sheep. We’re not shepherds, but we can see it. If I had 5 kids and one of them was lost, I’d leave all 4 of them to find the one. In fact, you’d think I was a sick-o for not looking for my one lost child.
That scripture is the whole sermon in a nutshell. God is the shepherd. He loves each of his sheep with everything in Him. When one wanders away and begins to make bad decisions, He will NEVER STOP until He gets that sheep back. God is relentless. He does not give up on anyone.
Well, Jesus takes it a step further (as usual) and asks that we be His hands and feet to find these lost sheep. In verse 15 he says, if your brother (meaning a close friend, someone in your circle of influence) sins, go and talk to him about it.
So, when a friend of mine is sinning, I’m supposed to tell them they’re wrong?! Yeah, that’ll work. They’ll love me for that.
Well, that’s what most people think. And that’s why hardly anyone follows this verse. Then Jesus says if your brother doesn’t listen, bring someone else with you and confront him again!
HA! I can just see this now. You make a call and invite your friend out to lunch. You confront him about sin. He laughs at you and tells you to butt out. You go home chagrined. Then you call your friend again and say, “Oh, let’s do it again…with another one of our friends!” That would go over so well.
Most of us would say, “They won’t listen. I’d feel stupid. They’d get mad. Why risk it?”
But Jesus says, if they still don’t listen to you, tell your group or your circle of friends about this person’s sin. If your brother still doesn’t listen to his circle of friends, then treat him like an outsider. (Which in the last 2 weeks we’ve established is a better scenario than being the immoral insider!)
Why is Jesus so insistent about this? Well, it’s because he’s so…insistent. He’s so insistent that His sheep come back. He’s so in love with his children, that he will never stop trying to rescue them. He wants us to do the same.
Jesus isn’t asking us to be mean, humiliate and degrade our friends–he’s asking us to rescue them. But if we hide behind, “Well, I don’t want them to think I’m judging. I don’t have the right to tell them they are sinning”, then we are copping out so we don’t have to take the responsibility to rescue them.
If you saw a child running into the street, or a group of people driving down a road with a broken bridge, or even an animal heading toward disaster–any normal person would risk their time, their comfort and maybe their life to save them. Why would we not do the same for someone’s spiritual life?
If someone has confronted you and you feel judged by them, just know they are being a friend to you. They love you too much to see you head in the wrong direction. They are mirroring God’s heart…they are remembering that God never gave up on them. And they just want to remind you of the same thing.
Yikes. I just can’t get over these sermons. Not only is it something that (I feel) is hardly ever taught, it’s also amazingly practical. I’m wrestling with exactly what to do with this. I know there are planks in my eye that need to be looked at. And I know that I need to be loving enough to judge some people in my life. I want to be a true friend that shows God’s real, true and forever love.
And we still have Part Four next week. I don’t know if my little heart can take it!