I don’t like to get judgmental about anyone. OK, that’s not true. I’ve have some notable and very amusing conversations with Mrs. Blue in which I have been very judgmental. Shame on me. Truly.
But my point is that, really, I don’t generally feel comfortable judging folks. Which is as it should be, biblically speaking, for we are told “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
And yet, you may have noticed that around here, I’ve taken certain well-known pastors of huge churches to task. I’ve pretty much said that one of my own recent former pastors has essentially become a virtual cult leader.
I’m not judging.
Really, I’m not. I am, however, pointing out that some of these guys are taking very dangerous paths. In terms of their teachings, the dogma they espouse and the way they treat people, they show themselves to be of questionable characters and motivations.
At times, I cut them at least some slack, based to a certain extent on this:
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (From Romans chapter 12)
There are those, I’m sure, who would take me to task for my approach to spiritual matters, what with my cavalier language and my propensity to talk about sexual odds and ends (and tips and crevices…oh my!). I feel that I am responding to a calling to reach out in a different way and perhaps to different people.
Who am I to say that Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church isn’t fulfilling his own calling to the letter? Perhaps that is what God wants Joel Osteen to be doing. Or Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Or Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.
And I find myself with these passages from the Book of Romans staring me in the face:
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand…But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. (Excerpts from Romans chapter 14)
It is that last line that reminds me I am fully justified in shining a light on the pastors that I have and the attitudes among many Christians that I have, when I take issue with common attitudes among Christians. Or non-Christians for that matter.
I am not judging people. I am looking at actions and calling to mind the very real possibility that those actions are going to lead people astray. Encourage them to do things that aren’t right. Lead them down paths of false doctrine that Jesus would have cringed to hear.
It’s entirely possible I’ve been guilty of the very same thing at time. I hope not, but if I have been, I hope someone will open my eyes to that and I hope that if it’s true, I will correct myself.
I cannot judge the people I rail about, but I can say that at times, they seem to be clearly doing wrong, and in that they are hurting others, and they need to be called on it.