Church: Judgmental or Holy?
Opinion - Everybody has one! Judgmental or Holy?
I have a few questions to ask. Your answers will probably center on your opinion. So here are my questions. In your opinion describe our recent Ohio weather? Sensational. In your opinion describe our economy? Be careful hereJ! Stinks, sluggish! In your opinion describe the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans dead? Horrific! Let me throw in a few pictures.[i] What opinion do you think this little girl has of this encounter? Or this man Para-sailing? Do you think he knows there’s a whale swimming beneath him? In your opinion, how strong is one single ant? According to a recent article on nutrition, eating right doesn't have to be complicated. Nutritionists say there is a simple way to tell if you're eating right. Colors. Fill your plate with bright colors: Greens, Reds, and Yellows. In fact, I did that this morning. I had an entire bowl of M&M's.[ii] In my opinion nutritious is delicious!
David Kinnaman wrote a book called Unchristian. They asked people who do NOT believe in God currently to give their opinions concerning Christianity/the church/people of faith. /“Nearly nine out of ten people—87 percent—said that the term "judgmental" accurately describes present-day Christianity.”[iii]/
That bums me out. I hope that bums you out. Ask the person next to you – do you think the church is judgmental? To be clear allow me to provide a definition. “To be judgmental is to point out something that is wrong in someone else’s life, making the person feel put down, excluded and marginalized.”[iv] These sad examples come to mind.
“People who smoke. What’s wrong with them? Pumping nastiness into their bodies. Wasting money! They smell like they’ve been to hell and I’m sure they’re going back!” Isn’t it amazing to think of how many addicted people will wind up in heaven! OR: People not my skin color or people covered with Tats can’t be trusted! God hates anyone who’s had an abortion! That’s not true! I read about a father who was asked what he would do if his son or daughter struggled with their sexual identity. He said basically – “If they were gay I’d give them up. Wish they would dead or never existed in this world.” His response makes me so sad. I’m not condoning anyone’s behavior, but your child is still your child! I love the church, but it appears the church might have a bad reputation! Let’s get it right! Turn in your Bibles today to 1st Corinthians chapter 1, verse 1! DO YOU NEED A BIBLE? Last week Peter declared Jesus as Lord. This week, it’s the Apostle Paul! Let’s read the first two verses. (1) Paul… Paul wrote 13 letters to churches for various reasons but primarily to encourage them all to stay faithful to Jesus! (1-2) Corinth… Paul went on three missionary journeys. His 2nd journey took him to Corinth in Acts 18.[v] He met a Jewish couple named Aquila and Priscilla. They had been kicked out of Italy and fled to Greece. Paul led them to Christ and “viola” a church was born! What do we mean by CHURCH! Paul used the same word for church that Jesus used last week. The word “Ekklesia!” According to Jesus the church is an assembly of people. People who’ve been called out of darkness and into light! According to Jesus the church is an assembly of people who’ve made a profession of faith! I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of the living God. PAUL AGREES! The church is an assembly of believers in Corinth! But there’s more. Go back to verse 2! …to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy,
What does it mean to be sanctified or to be called holy? Well, I promise you this – it doesn’t mean to be judgmental! I did a series back in February called “Confessions of a Pastor!” It was one of the most well received series I’ve ever done. Maybe it’s because people can all relate to being vulnerable. Well, I plan on doing that series again and again and again. How about right now! I confess to you that I’ve been judgmental! I used to think that that all poor people were just flat lazy! It’s not true! I want you to meet a friend. His name is Marque Evans but everyone calls him BIG Cleve! He was my roommate when I went to Israel. When I first met him I thought, “I’m not going to sleep at night!” BIG Cleve is an awesome man of God! I repented! Do you need to repent before God today because you also have become judgmental!
The church is described in the Bible as a Body, a Flock, a Marriage, a Building and a Family! I love my family – Tricia, Jeanna and Sam. They love me. MOST DAYS! Some days it’s hard for them to even like me let alone love me. That’s true of any family – even a church family. I love this church family. So let’s have a family meeting! I’ve been in fulltime ministry for 28 years – 24 at this church. I’ve never had this happen before, but this week two of our staff members - Tim Pressler, our Director of Outreach and Athletics and Nick Zarley, our Middle School Pastor resigned. May I say to you right up front! These men are my friends, and maybe your friends. They are going to be alright and Westerville Christian is going to be just fine! Resignations happen. Change is inevitable.
But I do need your help! Trust your leadership. This just happened. Our leadership needs time. Both Tim & Nick love God and will continue to live and serve God! Don’t become judgmental. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t think that your leaders are poor leaders or that there must be something wrong with Westerville Christian because you can’t lose two staff members in two days! I know our best days are right before us! Also, we are gathering people to step up and help lead our Fall BB Outreach. Could you help? The same is true with our Middle School Ministry!
The church is not just Greg, Tim or Nick! The church is the body of Jesus and I love the church! Speaking of the church.
Go back to verse 2! …to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy… Sanctified means “to acknowledge as hallow. To separate from profane things and dedicate yourself to God.”[vi] To be holy or called his holy people is to be described as a saint. And what are saints – forgiven sinners who’ve chosen to live as God says to live! Is this what it means to be separate? I’m over here and you’re over there and the two shall not meet? How about this? MONKS photo![vii] To be separate is to go off in silence and meditate? Tell me which is better? To be holy or just seen as “holier than thou!”
Gary Thomas told a story about a friend of his who was on a business trip: After the sessions an attractive young woman knocked on his hotel door …. When he opened the door, she pushed through and walked right into his room. "You can't be in here," he said. "Why not?" she asked teasingly. "Are you scared?"
At that moment this woman made a move that was over-the top provocative. He told her to leave at that moment. Which she did. Immediately, he wisely told two business associates what had happened …. Two months later, he returned to that same city, working with the same company when that same woman pulled him aside. “We have to talk,” she said. "I'm going back to church. I needed to get my life back together. I finally met a man like you who was more interested in me than in my body, it showed me how messed up I had become."[viii]
That’s what it means to be holy. But often I think we think it just means we cannot have anything to do with anyone! Here’s BIG Cleve again. He’s my friend. He’s a pastor/church planter in Cleveland. He RAPS in church. I gotta bring him down here to preach sometime. He’s so cool and he desperately loves God. His church is reaching Lebanese, Liberians, Latinos, Caucasians and African Americans.
That’s awesome growth. Why do churches sometimes stop growing? Go back to 1st Corinthians 1:2. We make Jesus our Savior. We’re good with him forgiving our sins, but we don’t make him Lord. To make Jesus Lord means he comes first. I deliberately need to share with other people that he’s 1st in my life and that I know forgiveness! Don’t make this hard. Who are you around? What circles do you run in? School, work, the gym – listen to people. I asked my friends Chris and Scot – do you want to get together and study the Bible? We’re up to 11 guys now. My friend Mark Pratt asked two guys – one sort of believes in God the other does not – you want to get together and read the Gospel of Mark. They are now up to six men. One became a Christian!
Today, I am challenging anyone here – if you don’t belong to a church – belong here! WHY should you? Because we’re a bunch of forgiven sinners storming the gates of hell. We preach and teach the Bible. Salvation can only come through Jesus! Grace rocks. We’re not perfect – you don’t have to be either. We’re devoting our lives to Jesus’ church as imperfect as it is! And our best days are right before us – I want you to be a part of that!
[iv] David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 182
[v] James E. Smith, The NT Books Made Simple, 71
[vi] Logos Bible Software, James Strong, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,