Tag Archives: judging

Condemnable things

I was thinking about some of the things that the church has demonized over the years, things that we have said were “condemned” or would condemn us. Here’s some I came up with off the top of my head:

  • Movies
  • Dancing
  • “Spot” cards (with Rook cards being okay)
  • Dominoes
  • Mixed bathing (otherwise known as swimming)
  • Alcohol
  • Tattoos
  • Piercings
  • Jazz
  • Rock and roll music
  • Rap music
  • Tobacco
  • Pants on women
  • Short hair on women
  • Long hair on men

We could go on and on. And we probably will.

But I think we need to add one big taboo to the very top of that list:

  • Making laws that God hasn’t made

I daresay that’s far more dangerous than any of the other things on that list.

Book giveaway and new blog tour post

blog tour
CIOTo promote this year’s Summer Blog Tour, we’re giving away one set of Church Inside Out, both book and workbook. Just leave a comment below then enter over HERE.

Peter Horne continues our blog tour today:


“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Perhaps you’ve heard that verse before.

We use it to tell other people to stop judging us. “God knows what’s in my heart.”

We use it to judge other people, because although they look good God, and I, know what’s really going on in their hearts.
Sometimes we use it to include people who have a lot of tattoos, or whose clothes are shabby… “the Lord looks at the heart.”

Sometimes we use it to excuse our laziness and lack of action. “I know I could have cooked a meal for that person who just had surgery. I’d have liked to but just didn’t get around to it. Well, God knows my heart.”

In reality, we all judge on appearance more than we’re usually willing to admit. Although we know and quote 1 Samuel 16:7 we often live in opposition to this principle.

We make all sorts of judgments about people based on appearance:

  • Football fans – we like people more or less depending which team they support;
  • Professional attire – we presume people are more educated and capable the more formal their dress;
  • Skin tone – we all tend to more quickly trust others who look more like us;
  • Hemlines – women in general are more regularly judged by appearance and people associate values with clothing choices us as the length of a woman’s dress.

Because we know people make judgements based on appearances we then begin to accept them and play along. We may even try to use those judgements to our own advantage.

“It’s not a coincidence that many politicians wear red-coloured ties with light shirts and darker suits.

“Red is the power tie,” said Mark Woodman, a trend analyst who studies colour in Laurel, Maryland, in the US. “There’s something about red that always comes back to strength and passion.” (BBC)

When it comes to playing along there’s not much we can do about our skins. We all ‘play along’ to some degree in regards to clothing, but accepting skin colour as a reasonable basis to make judgements about a person is dangerous. Viewing a presidential candidate as passionate because he wears a red tie pales in significance compared to initially regarding someone with dark skin as dangerous or assuming that someone with white skin would ‘fit in’ better to our office atmosphere.

It’s difficult to see people inside-out when society, and perhaps our human nature, trains us to see others outside-in. Notice in the opening verse that God states that it’s completely natural for even the great prophet Samuel to judge people by appearance. But as we grow in spiritual maturity we must desire to see others as God sees them.

The apostle Paul expresses the same thought this way:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…     2 Corinthians 5:16-18

Reconciliation has many different applications. Primarily all humanity needs reconciliation with God. But given the history of the United States no one can claim to be reconciled with God while neglecting racial reconciliation. Given the tragedies we’ve witnessed around this country recently, the church can’t preach forgiveness while standing on the sidelines pointing fingers at violence and injustice in others.

Christians should be leading the way in practicing reconciliation because we regard no one from a worldly point of view.

  • Can we continue to describe churches as black and white if we no longer regard others from a worldly point of view?
  • Can we tolerate education systems with disparate graduation rates running along racial lines?
  • Can we remain silent while African-Americans fill our jails at a disproportionate rate?

Do we really believe that in Christ the old has gone and the new is here? Or is it too easy for us to rationalise the points above? Do we really see people differently because of Christ, or have we just memorised a couple of feel-good Bible verses?

Steps to See Others Inside-Out

  1. Remind Yourself Frequently: When you find yourself saying, “Typical, black drivers are always cutting me off.” or “Well, that’s no surprise, Indians are taking all our jobs.” Find ways to talk back to yourself. Remind yourself that each person is an individual with struggles and bad habits just like yours. Remind yourself that God loves them too.
  2. Understand that skin color is more than skin deep: People of different ethnicities experience the world in different ways. When we intentionally try to ignore skin color we ignore important aspects of that person’s life. Seeing people inside-out means acknowledging that a black male will most likely have different thoughts about dealing with the police than will a white female. The outside influences the inside. [I’ve written further on this topic HERE.]
  3. Ask Questions: Spend time with people from other ethnicities and cultures. Don’t tell them what the people in the news are doing wrong. Listen to their experience with the issues that interest you. Don’t argue! A simple ice breaker might go something like this, “What’s something about your experience living in the US that you think would surprise me, or I wouldn’t experience?”
  4. Make New Friends: If you live in a racially diverse community, and all your friends come from the same race as you, it’s time to develop some new friendships. It’s hard to demonstrate that you’re an agent of reconciliation if your friends are all one color.
  5. Be Color Brave: Encourage your church to address issues of racial reconciliation. If you live in an area with single race churches, then speak up for unity services and other forms of cooperation. Don’t pretend that race-based churches provide an acceptable status quo. Push for your church to embody the truth that “the Lord looks at the heart.”

It has taken the United States centuries to reach this point in race relations. While prejudice may never disappear from our society, Christians have an opportunity and challenge to demonstrate a better way. We can show the world what a difference it makes to move through life Seeing Inside-Out.

Peter Horne moved to the United States from Australia in 1999 to pursue training for ministry. Having filled the roles of children’s minister, youth minister, and college minister in various locations around the US and Australia, he now gladly serves as the minister for the Lawson Rd Church of Christ in Rochester, NY. You can find more of his writing on his blog: www.aussiepete.wordpress.com. He also writes to equip multi-ethnic churches at www.culturalmosaic.org.

The condemning spirit

I took one of my blog posts and adapted it for the use of Heartlight Magazine. The article was called “She Had An Abortion.” It ran on their website last Wednesday.

I received a number of comments on that article, mostly positive. One was blisteringly negative. The writer said, “Tim can Criticize Christians for Speaking the Truth ? But Christians Are Wrong for Speaking the Truth Against sin ??” He ended the e-mail by saying:

Shame on the False Teacher , teaching Half-Truths.. Read the Text, Read your Bible, You have One Life, you have an enemy and sin IS his weapon.

As I read it, I felt sorry for the person that wrote it. Not that I’m against speaking out against sin, but this person was advocating vigorous condemnation of those entrapped by sin. When I commented about the message to Steve Ridgell, my co-worker, he immediately said, “That person is hiding something in their own life.”

A flash of recognition came over me. That’s where I’d heard that tone before. Those who are hardest on sin are typically those with hidden sin in their own lives. They are especially merciless if they can relate to that sin. The person struggling with sexual sin will condemn the adulterer with a fury. The person fighting addiction will denounce the alcoholic. I’ve seen it enough to know that it’s true.

There’s usually one of three things going on:

  1. These people don’t understand that salvation is by grace.
  2. These people don’t understand that God’s forgiveness is ongoing.
  3. They aren’t aware of the work of the Holy Spirit in helping us overcome the flesh.

Because they are painfully conscious of the struggles in their own lives, they can be brutal with those who yield to similar temptations. They’ve seen the ugliness of sin in their own hearts, been repulsed by it, and direct that repulsion to others.

Obviously, that’s not true of everyone. But I’ve seen it far too many times. Even in myself.

photo by E. Cerroni

Bringing The Ark: Consuming Criticism

We’ve been looking at 2 Samuel 6, when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. We saw the tragedy of Uzzah’s touching the Ark, then looked at David’s acts of praise.

David then acted to bless those around them. He offered sacrifices so that everyone could feast before the Lord. He also provided cakes for everyone that was there. After ministering to the people, he went home to take a blessing to his family.

But not all of his family was ready to be blessed. The text says, “As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.” (2 Samuel 6:16) Ouch. The whole country is celebrating the bringing of the Ark, but Michal can’t join in. She can’t rejoice with them. She can’t worship with them. She looks at her husband as he praises God, and she despises him.

Further down, we read: “When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”” (2 Samuel 6:20) The moment of blessing is wasted. Michal can’t receive the blessing for she is too busy criticizing.

“And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.” (2 Samuel 6:23) I find it so very sad. David came to bring her a blessing, but Michal came away with a curse.

Yet even though she was childless, Michal seems to have many descendants. They go to moments of worship and come away talking about what this person did and what that person didn’t do. Michal’s voice echoes even today: “He clapped!” “She raised her hands!” “They didn’t wear the right clothes!”

What’s sad is that a blessing is missed. While some are consumed with praise, others are consumed by criticism. And their faith becomes a sterile faith.

Be quiet Michal! You’ve said more than enough. It’s time to worship God and let others worship.

The Christian and Alcohol, Part 10

wineWe need to look at a few more passages that show us what the New Testament says about alcohol. After that I’ll try and piece together the implications of what we’ve seen. Thanks to all who have been patient and supportive as we’ve gone through this. Too often we only look at the texts that support something we’re trying to prove, rather than considering what the whole Bible has to say. Let’s look at these texts:

  • Romans 14 is an important passage, dealing with Christians who held different convictions. (Sometimes we talk about this being about Christians with different opinions, but that softens the conflict that was going on here) Some Christians would eat meat, some wouldn’t. Some would observe certain days, some refused. Some drank wine, others chose to abstain. Some key points from these verses are:

    Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1-4)
    Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (Romans 14:13-18)
    Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (Romans 14:20-21)

    We can’t pass judgment on those whose conscience won’t allow them to participate in certain things, nor can we pass judgment on those who feel they have the freedom to participate.

  • In Colossians 2, Paul says “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” (Colossians 2:16) This goes beyond not judging. It also tells us that we must not allow ourselves to be judged. “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:20-23) The human commands of do not handle, do not taste, do not touch would seem to be the best way to restrain the flesh, but Paul says those tactics are ineffective.
  • “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12) There is one Lawgiver. It’s not me. It’s not you. It’s God.
  • They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:3-5) The Bible says that God created wine for man’s good. Should we speak ill of something that God created?

There’s more to be said on this issue, but let’s pause now and look in depth at these verses before we move on. See you tomorrow!

[I’m largely refraining from commenting on comments, trying to present my thoughts bit by bit. Toward the end of the series, I’ll try and be more interactive.]

Previous posts in this series:
The Christian and Alcohol (Alcohol abuse)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 2 (Alcohol in the history of the U.S.)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 3 (Seeing what the Bible says about alcohol)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 4 (What the Pentateuch says about alcohol)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 5 (What the rest of the Old Testament says about alcohol)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 6 (What Proverbs and Ecclesiastes say about alcohol)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 7 (What the gospels say about alcohol)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 8 (What the rest of the New Testament says about alcohol)
The Christian and Alcohol, Part 9 (Additional passages to consider)