You'll never believe what I just heard!

For many months I've been methodically studying, and teaching through, the Sermon On the Mount of Jesus (Matthew 5-7).  Two over-arching take-aways for me have been this: God really cares about our relationships, and He really desires that we embrace His peace.

This is why He has so much to say about how we interact with others.  This week, I'm starting chapter 7, which begins with , "Do not judge others, or you will be judged.  You will be judged by the same measure that you use to judge someone else."  There are two reasons why we're prone to judge:
1) we attempt to feel better about ourselves, to lift ourselves up, by putting someone else down.  Deep down we feel disconnected from a holy God, and being "better than" someone else, anyone else, means I'm not "the worst."
2) we attempt to control others with criticism, condemnation, and sometimes even ignoring them.  The thought is, "They don't do what I think they should, so let me tell you why they're wrong." 

Jesus is clear: use your words to encourage one another, to build up, and not tear down.  And yet, just about every day, I face situation after situation where people who label themselves as "Christians"(which supposedly means "little Christ" or "like Christ"), use gossip to keep the rumor-mill working overtime.  It's divisive; it's destructive; it's a straight up sin issue.  Just recently, conversations have included...
"I heard at the funeral that..."
"I heard at a ladies' tea that..."
"I heard in a group of friends from church that..."

Loose lips sink ships, but loose lips will lose all power if you refuse to have loose ears.  Stop listening to it.  Walk away.  Or better yet, express the truth that "gossip is not from God, spreading rumors is not a spiritual gift, and not only am I not going to listen to it, you need to stop saying it."  When there is negativity in any situation or relationship, ask yourself, "Where is the negativity coming from?"  Then ask yourself, "Why am I letting the voice of negativity influence me into believing that the situation is negative?"

A relationship, or ministry, or whatever... if it is anointed & appointed by God, will never use putting others down in order to build itself up.  That's not how God rolls.  That is not how His Church rolls either.

So, if you've been hurt, wounded, broken, and left-out because of a judgment by someone,or a group, identifying themselves as "Christians," I would like to apologize on behalf of the rest of us for allowing people who are not Christians to use the name.  Please extend whatever grace you have to them, and us... the grace that should have been extended to you.

And if you're prone to judging others, start with the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9), and read through the end of Matthew 7.  Then read it again.  Then again.  Then pray, reflect, meditate, and read it again.  When you come to the conclusion that you are actually God, then you can do the job that is only His. 

(By the way, more this Sunday at Oaklawn Church of God)


Alyson said…
Dude. Having just come out of a time of being deeply hurt by "christians," your words ring truth. Joel used to talk about this over and over to people, who just didn't see that what they were saying was wrong. "Well, I'd say it to their face," or "It's the truth,".....Over and over he'd say that if you are not a part of the problem or the solution, you do not need to be talking about it, and if you are a part of the problem or solution, then you need to be talking to the person and not others about it. Why is this soooooo hard to get? And the hurt that comes from words is so hard to heal from. Anyway, I feel I am rambling, so I will stop. Love the post.

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