Note: this is an editorial and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Restore-FCCF movement in general. It is one editor’s viewpoint. Consume with caution.
Not everyone agrees with the Restore-FCCF movement. Plenty of people think we should be silent, compliant and “go along to get along”. Their view is that the church still does good works. As Christians, we should not be critical and should leave judgement to the Lord. Generally speaking, most of the folks in the Restore-FCCF movement would agree.
Here’s a viewpoint by Jane Smoot that opposes the Restore-FCCF efforts and says that the “accusers need to read this, but I seriously doubt that they will.”
Janet refers to an article on Crosswalk.com by Carrie Dedrik (editor of ChristianHeadlines.com). The article starts with a story about Dedrik eating a bagel in church. She makes fun of her concern that a close friend would judge her harshly for consuming it during the announcement time:
“Please don’t judge my bagel-eating in church!” I said to my friend yesterday morning. I was kidding; I go to a casual church service and I knew that my friend would not mind that I ate my breakfast during the announcement time.
But now I’m thinking…Why did I feel the need to justify my behavior (even jokingly)?
“Why did I feel the need to justify my behavior (even jokingly)?”
Off the cuff, my answer would be because your common sense told you it was inconsiderate and wrong. You are in a house of worship not the Waffle-House. You knew innately that it was a small sign of disrespect, but rather than wait until after the service, you decided that your impulse to consume was more important than the decorum of your church.
I look at it as rude. Someone has to clean that church. They’ll have to clean up your crumbs, pick up the papers you left behind and maybe brush off the seat you used. All because your “needs” were more important than your respect for your church and your fellow congregants. How much of a mess did you leave for the next person that sits in your seat?
Harsh? Maybe. But how often does the floor of the worship center look like a movie theater after the matinee is over? Expecting common courtesy is not being “judgmental” and it is not ant-Christian. It is simply being considerate to fellow worshipers. It’s a house of God, not a House of Pancakes!
Judgment has become a real and prevalent problem in the church today. And it goes so far beyond the silly things like eating bagels.
In the Relevant article “Why Are Christians So Judgmental?” author and pastor Michael Hidalgo says that the tendency for Christians to judge others is an epidemic that has created a toxic atmosphere in the church.
When I got to that paragraph, I realized this was a “puff piece” to describe someone else’s article. So, let’s peel another layer from the onion and look at what Carrie based her piece on.
“Why Are Christians So Judgmental?”by Michael Hidalgo tries to analyze why Christians are so “judgmental” and the results of that kind of environment.
We are all familiar with Jesus’ words, “Do not judge.”
Perhaps our familiarity with it is due to the fact many of us insist on judging others. We are willing to entertain conversation about most anyone who makes a mistake or does something wrong, even when it has nothing to do with us. Something in us likes to see people pay for their misdeeds. So we attack.
Our attacks come in the form of opinions, jokes, Facebook banter and conversations. We call names, label others, race to characterize and make sure others know our thoughts. It’s a kind of public punishment that we get to enforce. We launch toxic, crippling words as a way of inflicting harm on those we believe should know better. But it gets worse.
There’s a real grain of truth in what Michael says. As Christians, our first mandate is to honor Christ by being Christ-like. That would mean extending grace and forgiveness and not being judgmental. It means condemning the sins, but saving the sinner.
Following Christ also means learning to be wise in addition to forgiving. Wisdom comes from experience and learning. Christ also taught us to protect the weak and innocent.
Wisdom from experience is generally very costly and is usually acquired through trial and error and involves the loss of both resources and time. It is more prudent to gain wisdom through learning and analyzing the mistakes of others.
Be patient, I’ll bring this canoe to shore in two minutes.
Judgement, in the Biblical sense, should be left to the Lord. The “judgement” that Michael Hidalgo refers to is the natural tendency for humans to be stinkers, form cliques and tribes, and exclude from their circles, people who are different or do not appear to measure up. Everyone does it, Christians do it, Jews do it, Muslims do it. Even pastors do it. (Mega-church pastors tend to hang around with each other while you’ll find small-church pastors congregating in a different part of the meeting hall.)
Christians need to realize that there is a difference between being judgmental in the Biblical sense and vigilant by using common sense.
When you concentrate on being non-judgmental and open to everyone you run the risk of not being vigilant. When that happens, you wind up with a pedophile like Brandon Milburn, who managed to prey on kids at First Christian Church for seven years before being stopped.
The shameful result of putting common sense in our back pocket was that it took the victims coming forward to stop this pervert. Church leadership and well-meaning adult overseers ignored warnings from “judgmental” congregants and let this guy ravage teens for seven years. He managed to hop from church to church with relative ease. Of course, when you are talented, make the right contacts, and get recommendations from a senior pastor, church hopping is easy.
This isn’t just a senior pastor issue. There were a number of people and a couple of elders who had a suspicion about what might be happening. They brought this to the church leadership’s attention, but nothing was done about it.
Out of that whole pool of people who are charged with protecting the youth in the church, only a youth sponsor, a Sunday School teacher, and a youth Pastor stood up and blew the whistle. And for that bit of theater, they got sued by their senior pastor and church.
Being non-judgmental and tolerant of everyone is Christ-like. But, being stupid by not remaining vigilant and ignoring common sense warnings is not Christian at all.
6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Mathew 18:6
15“If your brother or sisterb sins,c go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’d 17If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
19“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”