The big turn-off

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There are many things about the Christian faith which non-believers find offensive, the chief of which is that Jesus Christ, who is the Creator of the world (see the first chapters of both John and Colossians) took on human flesh and is the Savior of the world.

It’s always going to be this way, that Christ, and many Christian truths, are going to offend non-Christians. What doesn’t need to be, as it is too often, is that non-Christians and Christians alike are offended by certain behaviors of Christians.

You know the word is coming. Hypocrite. And there is a specific hypocritical behavior which harms the holy name of Jesus Christ, along with all who are on the injured end of it. To introduce it, here are two quotes from the Lord Jesus:
• Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, or you too will be judged.”
• Matthew 7:12: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”

I can vouch for how often Christians quote these. I suspect I’ve heard them nearly as many times as the number of pizzas I’ve eaten in my life. Christians speak these with a reverence which approaches the very death and resurrection of Christ.

If only they would practice what they preach.

This has been on my mind the past few weeks. A trans friend has been at that point in transitioning where she’s had to tell her family. They are devout Christians. My friend has not practiced the faith since she was young. She speaks of Christ, and her being baptized, in the manner of a believer, and she lives an ethical, highly moral life—and I don’t think I’ve ever heard her speak ill of another person—but she hasn’t worshiped.

The concerns of her family over her being transgender found her saying to me with exasperation, “When I was growing up, we were always taught in church that we are not to judge and we are to treat others as we want them to treat us, but it seems like the first thing Christians do when there is something which they don’t approve is to forget the two rules that they are always professing.”

And that is her big turn-off.

And that is the big turn-off for Christians and non-Christians alike.

It is blatant hypocrisy. It is ruining the good name of Jesus Christ and His Church.

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I am pleased to report that many Christians take seriously what they profess. I am sad to report that way too many do not.

Way too many are quick to judge others. Way too many jump on the judging bandwagon with the most cutting words. Way too many speak in ways that have juicy smeared all over them: “Did you hear about Greg Eilers? Can you BELIEVE it??????”

I wonder, when the Lord Jesus said, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone (John 8),” how many modern Christians would have still had at it?

And do notice that the Lord did not say, “He who is without THIS sin”—the woman’s sin was adultery—but He kept it to sin in general. In other words, if you are a sinner—and the first qualification for being a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner—put down the stones.

 

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We love throwing stones. We love sorting through our sins so we can recognize that we are not guilty of the thing we see in another, and as we rocket our rocks we forget that we would never want anyone throwing stones at us even as we pick up the biggest ones we can find.

The Lord Jesus flips our behavior on its head. The Lord Jesus ate with sinners. The Lord Jesus only condemned those who would not heed His words. The main object of His condemnations were those hypocrites of hypocrites, the Pharisees.

God’s Word says that He wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4), and that Christians are to shine the light of Christ so that others might see their good deeds and give the glory to God the Father (Matthew 5:16). If we Christians do not do the latter because we do not practice the two things we claim are primary rules for living—judge not and the Golden Rule—the former will never happen.

And, oh, about this judging business. The Lord did not end with “judge not.” This placard provides the full thought:

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Do you want God to show you mercy? Then show mercy.

Do you want others to be loving, friendly, and respectful toward you? Then give them what you want from them.

It is easy to judge. It is hard to listen. It is hard to learn. It is hard to love.

It is that much harder when the thing in question is so foreign, so unknown, and so terribly misunderstood. Pastor Mark Wingfield, who wrote, “Seven Things I’m Learning about Transgender Persons” and its follow-up, has demonstrated that it is possible to put down the stones, listen up, and learn.

No judging. Golden Rule living. Just as I’m sure he teaches and his congregation members profess.

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We all are in this together. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24).” There is no room for stone throwing.

Do make wise judgments about every important thing in life—it is the God-fearing thing to do—but when you have the opportunity to speak a harsh word or a kind one, to react with a huff or to dig in with patience, to cut someone off or to draw them back in, to tear someone down or to build him or her up, to put up walls or to build bridges . . .

You know what to do. It’s what the Lord Jesus does for you. As Jesus’ disciple, it is your privilege and joy to treat others the way that He treats you.

He didn’t judge you for your sins. He died for them.

2016-03-23 11.22.22

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