What is the standard to which we, the church of Jesus Christ, hold the world? As Christians and representatives of the Most High, should we or should we not, hold the world to the same standard God has set for us? In reality, we cannot even keep that expectation. Why does the world look at the church with disdain? We eat our own, that is why. We judge each other without any respect to the commands given by Jesus in Matthew 15. When He was told by His disciples that He should not “offend” the pharisees, Jesus pointed out that God had not “planted” them and that they would be “rooted” up. Those were strong words.
Sound like a call to arms? Not so fast. He then tells them to “LEAVE THEM ALONE”. What? Why would He say that? Should not we the church, His direct representatives, have the authority of Christ and judge them? After all, it is plainly written in scripture that we will judge angels. Paul tells us, by citing Deuteronomy 32:35, that the place of judging belongs to God. Why? Because He knows the heart of man and as much as we think we do, we do not.
What normally happens is we see only so much of the situation in question and judge. However, the main issue can be more than the judgement. We look for a step ladder to go higher in life and when in the same field of work, it is very easy to climb upon your fellow worker, or laborer, if one wanted to be uber Biblical. We pick and choose those we disagree with and elevate ourselves to the next rung on the ladder, all the while breaking the heart of God.
As upset and frustrated as a fellow believer can be when seeing or hearing a “heresy” from the pulpit, imagine how heartbreaking it must be for the One who died for that person. In reality, the only investment we have is thinking someone will confuse our ministry with theirs and hold us accountable for their missteps. When dealing with “self-elevation” among His closest twelve, Jesus went to the extreme and washed their feet. We, I mean the disciples, were trying to figure out who would be the greatest. In only the way Jesus can, He reminded them of their position. If God will wash your nasty feet, what should we do when given the opportunity?
Here is the real question. Why do we work so hard to “save the world” if we really do not plan on saving the world at all but instead, use the world to make our mark and leave our legacy? Is not the very one that offends our belief structure part of this world? If that individual had committed “heresy”, should not they be on the very top of the list to lift up instead of tear down? Is it not possible that the very ones that we venerate are guilty of the same offenses we see in the “heretics”?
Divorce is the big no-no among the Baptist landscape. Look at some of the absolute lowlifes in the Christian public arena to have been through this abomination. Paula White, the gazillionaire television evangelist who, after her divorce, married Journey key board player, Jonathan Cain. What about Benny Hinn. He is the television “Jesus” that heals anyone and everyone. He heals all; except his own marriage. He has more money than Solomon; well, maybe not that much, but according to Entertainment Weekly, he is worth $42 Million. Then there are Bishop Eddie Long, Greg Locke, Pastor Chris Okotie, and so many others whose marriages have failed. The ways of the world are all around us and far be it from us to have such heretical people in our pulpits. Really?
One of the most venerated of the pastor/ personalities in Christian circles is Dr. Charles Stanley. He was separated three times and finally divorced from his wife Anna, yet oddly enough we never hear about this. Does this fact change anything about Dr. Stanley or his ministry? Do we all go out now and burn his books? Not hardly. While his congregation had a hard time with this and eventually had some separations in the church roll, imagine being Dr. Stanley or his wife Anna, who passed in 2014. Only they, AND GOD, know the reasons they are divorced and as it should be, will remain with them. Dr. Stanley’s life is NONE of our business.
Then there is that toothy preacher from Texas. Joel Osteen goes on the Larry King Live show and has an opportunity to witness to millions. Instead, he ends up a laughingstock among pulpits throughout the world by denying Jesus is the only way to heaven. Although he later apologized for this moment of denial, the damage had been done. With one of the largest churches in the world, his own Sirius XM radio channel, and several books, Mr. Osteen has literally reached tens of millions. The big problem is, did he reach them the way we wanted him to reach them? There is no way that we can have a leader of the Christian church telling the world Jesus is NOT the only way. Unless of course, he is one of us.
What if someone does it not only once, but twice on national television? Billy Graham, yes that Billy Graham, was on the Larry King show, yes, that same Larry King show (just a different air date), and denied Jesus was the only way. However, he also did it on Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power” television program. Is it possible that an entire life of ministry was for naught because of a couple minutes of misguided verbiage? I would not imagine there is anyone alive who would think so. Whether nerves, the lights, or someone in your face, perhaps we have made the same missteps?
Why do we hold some to one standard and others to another? Fortunately, Jesus holds everyone to the same standard and that is perfection. Obtaining that status is reserved for the “glorification” part of the ride we call life. Standing in the pulpit and bashing another ministry or making fun of them because of something they do contrary to what we believe, is hypocritical at best. Do you really want the world knowing your deepest secrets? Preachers from the pulpit scream out against homosexuality while sleeping with their secretaries. They scream out against alcohol while hiding from you in the liquor store. All denominations do it. This is called taking your eyes off the one that keeps us afloat; ask Peter. Sin is not reserved for the ones who think and act different than us. The difference between the world and the church is the world has to sin and the church is free not to. Let me say that again, we are free not to. Why do Christians sin? Because they choose to. We have been loosed from the bonds of sin, yet still remain chained to it. If the trinity is a mystery, so is this idea of being free yet staying locked up.
I hear a cry from the congregation, “why does the world act this way?” Because we, the church, are teaching them how to act. If we are truly the light, the world will look to us for guidance. When anyone walks in the dark, they are guided by the light. If the light is dim, they may trip and fall. Our light has dimmed by eating our own. What if we lifted up those we disagree with in prayer? Jesus did. What if we stopped dragging them to Jesus to be stoned because of a sin we clearly participated in at some point or another? If you want the light to be brighter, clean it.
It is the greatest and highest honor to represent Jesus Christ in this dark and dying world. On the same token, it is also the most dangerous and thankless job. There is not one among us who can cast the first stone. This being said, do yourself a favor and put that rock down before someone gets hurt.