“You aren’t sharing the Gospel? How can you say you love Jesus”? “What you studying in the scriptures? Nothing!? Man you ain’t going to ever grow like that”! “Relational witnessing? What is that? I can’t find that in my bible!”. “You go to who’s church? Man, don’t you know that your pastor and Jakes, Dollar, Hinn, Warren ________ (fill in the blank) are friends”? “What’s your pastor’s name? Don’t you know that he was at a conference with heretic”!? “You don’t know what justification means? Man, do you even understand the Gospel”?! “Have you discipled anyone since you have been saved; that person does what, there is no way they are saved; you believe what; you don’t know that wow; you don’t do that dude; you haven’t read this, you aren’t interested in theology; you can’t tell the difference…………?????!!!!!!!
This was my Christianity, arrogant, cocky, self-righteous, judgmental, all head and about as much heart as when the Tin Man meets Dorothy! To sum it up I was not a pleasant Christian to be around. Always handing out unsolicited books, always telling people what I thought about false teachers, always showing people how smart I was, what books I had read, what I believed, proud to show people I knew the difference between Biblical and Systematic Theology and I always wondered why 8 out of 10 people didn’t want to spend much time with me, like the kid who doesn’t discover deodorant until he is 18!
Why am I telling you this? Because those things above defined me and I don’t want them to define you. If we are to error lets do it on the side of grace. Let’s be over-gracious instead of overly critical. I lived my Christian life looking for rotten apples on a pretty well off tree. So I overlooked bushels and bushels of ripe sweet apples and only found the ones that have some damage and would say of that tree “look, you see this tree is no good”. Not finding areas of God’s grace in a persons life is a critical flaw! Yeah a lot of people are jacked up. Some of that is due to being under bad teaching, some of it due to having bad experiences and bringing in a lot of baggage. But man, if you were to check my luggage you may find some things that would cause you to treat me differently you may not even want to travel this journey with me anymore. If you look for the bad in individuals you will find it that is a promise.
I also write this to tell you not to be as pushy as I was. I was aggressive (well maybe still am) and for some reason that never drew people in and I always pointed the finger at them. I could never see that I was critical, that I was judgmental (I would always say “Jesus calls us to be fruit inspectors, uh, not really) I could never see that Jesus ate, talked and loved on people and met them exactly as they were and went where they were. Jesus didn’t say “go, clean up your life and theology then come back and see me”. He simply extends them grace and love and because of that the religious elite called Him all type of unsavory names. Jesus doesn’t tell the woman who is crying at His feet “hey go get your theology right before you interact with me, dont’ you know who I am”. Actually there is a lovely post found here about this. Nope, He actually rebukes the leader whose house he is at because of that.
I am going to be honest. Most of us with really good theology have really bad hearts. We can be very critical of others and we can be so unloving. We live by the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. We are zealous for truth more than we are people and yes Jesus is the truth but He values people so much more. I don’t want you to travel the road I was on and if you are on it I want you off of it immediately. We aren’t helping people we are hurting them and wounding them and many times those relationships are very difficult to repair. Sometimes Jesus just wants us to listen, love and serve, not give a bunch of deep biblical answers while over looking the experiences that has shaped the individual.
I close with this, a gentle knock is much more receptive than a battle ram. Think about it, if the police comes to your door and knocks it down with a battle ram, when they just could have knocked gently while you and your family was eating dinner, what would you think? Would that not be excessive force? We don’t burn down the house to get rid of a mouse do we? Paul commands us to correct with “gentleness and patience”. Jesus says “be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves”. Peter says “give a defense with gentleness”. I believe gentleness, patience, kindness, respect, man just plain ol’ common sense love is the way to go. Man I still have been trying to repair relationships from such mistakes and I don’t want you to have to experience what I experienced. I once heard someone say “experience is the wisdom of fools”. I think especially when you have evidence!