This is a kind of bridge article for "Christians, Heroes, and Hurt" and another that was previously unwritten, "Dealing with Important Things". In the previous article, I was discussing how some Christians get the bit in their teeth when people they look up to have a downfall. Sometimes, we find out that our heroes are crooks, and other times, we find out that people have other failings. In either case, we find out that people are human after all.
Sure, we know in our minds that everyone has failings, but it seems that we tend to get a mite upset anyway when they show their frailties. The idea for this one came to me because I had a headache when I was writing the last one.
What if I told you (or word got around):
- I took an extended break and used the work computer for personal research, and got in trouble
- Some of my girlfriends are jealous of my wife
- I was harsh with an atheist attacker
- I get spells of anxiety and depression
- I got away with a hit-and-run with property damage
- My cologne is very expensive
- I use strong profanity when software is bucking like a bronco
- My family and I are not close
- Some of my contacts are very dangerous people
- I stole my wristwatch from Wal-Mart
- The occasional rye and seltzer sets well with me
- That the expression "What if I told you" in the "Matrix Morpheus" "meme" was not actually used in the Matrix movies
One reason that I had a period of about fifteen years where I rudely put God on the back burner was because of the way many Christians acted. They — we — tend to get intolerant of people who do not act and think in a way that we think is best. Although I had been hurt, the problem was that I had unrealistic expectations, and took my eyes of Christ. Too many Christians do that. I reckon it's human nature to speak ill of others. Although atheists have a great time badmouthing Christians (with or without cause), there are Christians that like to gossip. That is beyond unhelpful, it is sinful (2 Cor. 12:20, 1 Tim. 5:13, Prov. 11:13 NIV).
In fact, although it's good to sound warnings when someone is getting bad teachings, we can get burrs under our saddles in the nonessentials. "You believe / do not believe / do / don't do what?" A good part of the problem is legalism. People judge others on little details. If you smoke, drink, have a tattoo, slip up and take the Lord's name in vain, go to movies, play cards, these and a host of other things can disqualify you from being a good Christian in some people's eyes. (Take a look at "The Lie of Legalism" for a good article.) The title track on Steve Taylor's debut EP was "I Want to be a Clone". It talked about rigidity, legalism, church-ianity, man-made rules, and more. Guess what, pilgrim? This is rooted in pride! A powerful line in there was, "If you want to be one of his, gotta act like one of us!" What if I told you that in some places, Christians have a smoke and drink, and nobody thinks anything of it?
People grow at different rates according to the Spirit's leading; there is a God, and you are not him. Sure, offer advice, counsel, teaching. We all need to be humble and teachable, as long as we compare what is said to us with Scripture, which is the final authority. I'm not talking about sins that destroy lives or disqualify someone from ministry because the qualifications of an elder must be taken seriously. People like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Kong Hee, and others found out the hard way, but their egos kept them going and some sheeple still follow them.
Christ followers, if you find out about failings or just something you don't like about another Christian, and it's not a violation of biblical principles, let it go. If it's sin, serious error, or something else, admonish him or her with gentleness and Christian love. More biblical truth and love, less judging. Less hurting, especially for no good reason. You savvy?