Sunday, December 27, 2009

Righteous Judgment

As I decided to trek out on this spiritual journey through my blog, I was left in limbo as to where and how I would start. I think about God and His Word a lot. It’s the topic of conversation on most days between my husband and me, as well as my closest friends and me. But when it’s coming down to sharing this out here, I’m not sure where to start. There is so much to say as to where I have been already, how do I jump out here without first showing you the pieces that came first? I wanted to tell you our story and how we arrived at where we are at spiritually, but that seems too long. I wanted to make a statement of faith, but then I felt like I would need to tell you our story…so again…too long.

So as I sat under conviction during this morning’s message, I thought what a fine place to start. The sermon was about self-control, sinful anger, and righteous anger. Many people are quick to say we should not judge. There is even scripture to support it. However, there is also scripture to support righteous judgment. Now have you, this form of judgment is rarely used, but it’s still true to the Word.

For example, we are warned time and time again in the epistles to beware of false prophets. Without judgment how would we know what is false? We are warned to discern spirits and to not be deceived. Again, we must make judgment. Anything that is contrary to the Word of God is up for judgment. (John 7:24, I Corinthians 5 and 6.)

I was just speaking to my husband this week about a “thorn in my flesh,” if you will. Because of our beliefs we have been cast out and isolated from many of our friends and family members. They’re nice enough but there is an awkwardness that is frequently sensed. I am not much for small talk. Usually if I want to talk, it is about much deeper issues than the pair of jeans I bought last week or the cars we drive or the homes we live in. But when you take the walk out into the “Christian world”, people don’t really want to talk about God or scripture. I find most people to be complacent with the god they know and don’t really care to search scripture for the One True God. If God is someone contrary to the idol in their mind, they don’t want to know what scripture says. So, we arrive at my thorn.

When the pastor mentioned this morning about righteous anger, I thought of the scripture “be angry and sin not.” I am angry most days because of the superficial religion of Christianity and that people can so effortlessly call them selves Christians yet not know one thing about the God they say they serve. I am angry because we are outcast yet not one person that casts us out can tell you what we believe. And if they have an idea, they cannot use scripture to explain to us why we are so wrong. I get bitter about other persons’ self-righteousness and how they neglect to see their own sin. Sin is so common they cannot see it as sin. A pastor I listen to on occasion made a statement and this is not verbatim but was something like this, “we look like the world, we act like the world, and we sound like the world but do not know it because we do not know the Word of God.” This resonated with me so much, not only for myself, but also for those around me. This is what I see as righteous judgment. I’m angry because these people who call themselves Christian are sinning against God and cannot see their sin. They are serving a false god and call themselves Christian. The superficial religion makes me angry.

And then I start to think, am I angry because they are sinning against God or am I angry that they are casting us out? If this is the case, my motivation is wrong. My righteous anger is no longer righteous but sinful. When I really meditate on this question, I must say it is a little bit of both. I so desperately want them to see God the way I see God. I want them to see their sin the way I see my sin. I want them to see our need for Christ and our depravity as humans. Then and only then do we see His glorious sacrifice. Then and only then do we truly believe in God. This is true belief; when we see ourselves as rotten, filthy rags and see that we have no righteousness in us and the only hope we have is in the work He did on the cross. I want them to see they are not good people just like I am not a good person. (Romans 3:10-11…well, the whole book of Romans.)

And at the same time all of that emotion is going on, I am bitter and I am mad. Why won’t they just listen to us? Why won’t they just talk to us? Why won’t they just discuss this with us? Notice all those “us”es? Where is God in that? We’re no longer pointing at God for glory, we’re pointing at us. We contradict what we believe by saying why won’t they listen. We say we believe the Spirit does this work; yet, we try to force them to see. And we can’t. Only God can make them see. (John 6:44-66)

I do praise God for my friends with different doctrinal beliefs that can discuss these things with me. I see in them the same drive to know God. I see in them the same conviction over sin and the true sense they know why they need Christ. The only difference between us is I say Christ 100%, and they say Christ 99.9%, us .1%, right? (Saying this with a grin because I know who is going to get that.)

I pray to God for understanding and for righteous anger. I pray that my sinful anger can be controlled and that I seek God’s glory in all things.


Amber said...

I just loved this post... I was right to be excited about this new angle of your blog!! I'm so digging it!

I relate so much to you Michelle, it's like you're reading my mind. If you recall my comment on one of your earlier posts, I warned you about what happened to me with some of my friends when I began to talk more deeply on my blog about what I believed, it seems as though the warning wasn't needed that you have already experienced some of this in your life - for that I am sorry, it is sad and a hard thing to go through and recover from (at least it was for me)

I completely agree and understand what you are saying about having friends with different doctrinal beliefs, I encourage it in my own life but have found as well it takes very strong Christians to be able to disagree with you and still be able to discuss these differences together - personally, I am excited and even thrilled to talk about our differences to search the Word for truth - who's to say I'm right all the time? I want to know where others stand and why they disagree with me, so that we both have the opportunity to grow and learn.

Sadly, it's not all that often that a person can give great reasons for WHY they believe what they believe.

It's also important for us to remember that growth can be hard I know that when God is working on an area of growth in my life, sometimes my initial reaction is to resist or deny what He is doing (I felt this way when I first started learning about predestination and I can't even tell you why!) I think this is true for most of us.

It is our job to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ pray for their growth, for a softening of their heart, just as we pray for our own. I am also praying for more "deep" relationships that encourage growth and challenge in our lives (mutually), like you, I love deep conversation, I thrive on it, I look forward to it, I love it and I know that it was God-given so I'm also thankful for it.

Thank you for this post, it was encouraging and something that I can/do completely relate to!

I love getting to know you more!

Tracy said...

I appreciate you opening up and sharing your heart and thoughts like this. I find it thought provoking.

Definitely a worthy goal - May all our anger be the righteous kind.

As far as judgment, I think you make a really good point that we are called by God in His Word to test the spirits to make judgments for ourselves as to what is true. Ultimately we must account for our own actions.

I pray that I would love God and love people, and that any actions or judgments would come out of that love. Sometimes in my life I've seen myself needing to be right more than I've needed to be part of God working in someone's life; when I see that I know I'm on the wrong track. I never cease to be amazed that, as I open myself up to immediate obedience to the Holy Spirit's leading, God frequently does not do things in the ways I would have.

I'm sorry to read that you've felt ostracized by fellow Believers. Sometimes I've known that pain too. I don't tend to get close very quickly however, so I typically don't experience that at a deep level (however, it takes me a long time to make close friends).

Momma Such said...

Wow, I think it's great that you are coming out on your blog and being honest with everyone about what you feel. I have to agree that too many people try to pretend they are what they aren't. It is sad that some have chosen to outcast you for your beliefs. What is the world coming to?

Tony C said...

For me, it's not about being right and proving everybody else wrong. It's about love. The quest for definitive knowledge took me down a very dark path once, and I forgot the words of Christ in the second scripture listed below.

Also, I've stated before that I feel slinging the false doctrine scripture at people is dangerous because most every Christian theology feels their doctrine is lead by the Spirit. Instead of debating, I try to focus on my love for God and the commendment from Jesus to love my neighbors...not judge them.

1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge.[a] Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God. I Corinthians 8:1-3 (NIV)

29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'[b] 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c]There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31 (NIV)

I like that you are stepping out in a quasi-fresh direction with your blog. You will, however, find a much greater diversity in opinion than you probably suspect...much more than the subject of the challenges of motherhood (which is nearly universal).

Anonymous said...

I like all the responses so far. I do disagree with Tony though. I think the agree to disagree philosophy and love everybody no matter their beliefs is whats wrong now in todays christianity. The spirit guides to truth. If we say they are no definitive truth then what are we doing? If it can be both black and white then the scripture should be tossed. I agree we are to love but not in the way most think. Look at this scripture.

2 John 1: 5-6 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

When someone says something you believe to be contrary to Word, compare it to scripture and see what the Bible says. There you will find your answer. The Jehovah Witness's believe Christ was not God. If this view is given merit and not fiercely defended against then Christ authority is in question. I love to argue religion and some pts I will compromise, not because I dont think it matters but the spirit has not shown me what I believe is 100% true. However, what I do konw as truth I will defend and think we are called to do such.

Michelle said...

Tony, I just had a response and someone called and it is now gone. :( So I was saying...I know the purpose of your response was to not respond but I must.

1. I am very prepared for what is out here and other people's opinions. I've dealt harshly with it for 6 years now.

2. You prompted my next post. Sometimes Godly love and righteous judgment go hand in hand.

False doctrine is VERY important. Jesus warned us about it as well as the later letters in the New Covenant.

Like Tracy said, sometimes we ALL are more concerned about being right than glorifying God. This post was about how for me it is both...I believe there is only One truth and in this world, Truth has been lost. We must seek together to find it and sometimes that means disagreeing. Like you have said before, this is an age old debate. But I will continue to debate until I know who God is. It's not about knowledge to puff up, it's about knowledge in knowing God. (Read Knowing God by J.I. Packer...great book!) However, because of nature, we tend to puff up, ESPECIALLY ones from the Calvinistic side of life. But, also on this side of life, I've witnessed some of the most humble and most repentant people I've ever encountered.

Anonymous said...

Your beliefs are interesting to say the least

Edie said...

This is an excellent post. We were discussing something along these lines this morning in my SS class as we compared the cultural views from the Christian views in this nation. After many comments beginning with "they teach", "they believe", "they say", I asked "what about us?"

The Bible says "If MY PEOPLE who are called by MY NAME will... turn from THEIR wicked ways, then I will heal their land." So it stands to reason that if our land needs healing, we are the ones responsible for it.

I get pretty fired up over worldly Christians too. Either we choose to live for HIM or we don't. I pray that I have a righteous anger too, and that I show it appropriately and courageously.