Ironies abound, in the four verses I just read to you. A full compliment of ten ironies by my count. Ten!
The most soul-stirring and hope-producing irony being this—the takeaway of this PODCAST:
“Your most influential, inspirational, impactful life-message—greatest chapter of your story—will come not out of your successes, but out of your failures.”
To invoke Jesus’ masterful metaphor — “You ARE the light of the world.”
That being true, your brightest beacon of light will shine forth from the depths of your darkest hour.
And no, I am not referring to the failure of the thousands who gathered at the Temple on this day in Acts 3 to hear Peter indict them for their greatest failure, as stunning as that failure certainly was.
There is buried within the syllables of this story an even greater failure.
An absolutely epic fail, one that hinges on exactly one word—one word about which I will tell you as you get into this podcast. A failure that underscores the blessed reality that…
“Your most influential, inspirational, impactful life-message—greatest chapter of your story—will come not out of your successes, but out of your failures.”
Call it the backdoor blessing of this amazing story. A God-blessed reality that stands in stark contrast to the what was without a doubt the weirdest experience I have ever had when speaking in a seminary chapel…
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Jesus made this remarkable statement in Matthew 7:1-6 (NLT):
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
In response to which I can only say, “Welcome to one of the most ignored or blatantly disobeyed passages in all of Bible.” Ignored or blatantly disobeyed to the needless and unspeakable hurt of so many of us.
May I, in this brief five-part blog, bare my soul as Jesus bared His in Matthew 7?
Believe it or not, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed what was then, and what is today, one of the most common spiritual practices — one that I will be bold enough to identify for what it is: an unconscionable spiritual abuse — that was taking place in so many of the synagogues of Jesus’ day, and is taking place in so many of our evangelical churches today.
And trust me: I don’t use those words, Spiritual Abuse, lightly.
Honestly, if people would simply take Jesus’ words to heart, as He expressed them in Matthew 7, they would absolutely transform our Christian experiences #ForTheBetter, because #ThisIsHuge.
Let’s talk about this!
For the life of me, I do not understand Why.Oh.Why so many “Christians” either do not understand Jesus’ words here in the Sermon on the Mount. Or if they do understand them, deliberately choose to reject them.
Jesus categorically states, “Do not judge others.” How much clearer could He be.
Four times in the first two verses of Matthew 7, Jesus invokes that word “judge.” And He even goes so far as to identify those who do judge others as “Hypocrites.”
Would someone tell me please (he asks rhetorically) what in the world is so hard to understand about that phrase, “Do not judge others”?
And please note that Jesus did not qualify that phrase. He did not say, Do not judge others unless…; Do not judge others if…; Do not judge others when… He simply and pointedly said, “Do not judge others.”
And why not? What’s the basis of this prohibition? We are never to judge others because — Are you ready? — we are each equally sinful. It’s all about a speck and log.
And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite!
Do you see it? The speck and log are the same sin, different perspective. You hold a speck at arm’s length, as if to place it in someone else’s eye, it looks like a speck. Bring it right up to your own eye, and the speck now looks like a log. Same sin, different perspective.
Jesus’ point? How dare we judge someone else when we are equally sinful!
The operative word, “Judge,” krino, is a courtroom term. Krino in this context refers to someone who exalts him or herself over another by assuming the position of a “judge” who renders a verdict on another’s behavior. That definition bears repeating:
Krino in this context refers someone who exalts him or herself over another by assuming the position of a judge who renders a verdict on another’s behavior.
In Matthew 7, a krino is a “judge” who assumes the authority to question and/or confront someone else’s behavior or character. Jesus used the word “judge” as a pejorative since it carries with it an implied arrogance on part of an individual who would dare to set him or herself up above another as their self-appointed “judge.” Someone who takes it upon him or herself to rebuke another, to confront another, to correct another for the way he or she lives.
In short, if I may be blunt, Krino as Jesus used the term refers to someone who refuses to mind their own business by placing him or herself in the position of God. Yes, you read that right. Someone who refuses to mind their own business by placing him or herself in the position of God. God, who is our only judge.
This is nothing less that spiritual pride run amok. All done under guise of “holding others accountable.”
An important phrase, that, about which I will have much more to say in this blog space tomorrow. But simply for now, judging others, exalting oneself over another as their self-appointed krino, is nothing less that spiritual pride run amok. All done under guise of “holding others accountable.” Thus giving themselves license to freely condemn others for the way they live their lives. A most important thought, one that I will develop much more fully tomorrow in Part 2 of this blog.
This whole, entire “judging” thing finds its justification in one insidious, all-too-common, non-biblical phrase: “holding others accountable.”
You think on that. And we’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
Or if you simply cannot wait, you can hear the entire message — voice inflections, pregnant pauses, et al — by clicking here:
Well, my friends, they say that “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I don’t know if I’ve ever realized the truth of that statement as much as I do this morning.
I was just about to throw my hat into the ring of controversy surrounding Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s GQ Magazine interview when my daughter, Ashley, beat me to the punch.
Amazingly, she said just about everything I wanted to say, but said it so much better and more graciously than I ever could.
So with her permission, I am hijacking her Facebook post as my blog post.
I cannot tell you how proud I am of her, given that she is taking what will probably prove to be for many an unpopular position.
I believe I speak accurately for both of us when I say that neither of us means any offense to anyone. We simply want to have a conversation about a very timely “teachable moment” courtesy of Duck Dynasty and the A&E Network.
PLEASE feel free to post any comments that you may have, in agreement or disagreement with these sentiments. Thank you for reading them. And if you do indeed agree, PLEASE “Share” with your friends and “Like” this on Facebook.
The last several days my Facebook news feed has absolutely exploded with support, petitions, etc. for Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. Usually when there is a hot topic on Facebook I stay away from it, because that is simply not why I’m on Facebook to begin with. I am on Facebook so that I can get to know my friends better and be a part of their lives while letting you all get to know me better and be a part of mine. But in this Duck Dynasty discussion, I see a way that you can learn more about me and what I believe in on a more personal level than I think I have ever gotten into on here before.
My opinion might be different than a lot of my friends who are a part of the Christian community, even though, I suppose, you could say that I am a part of the Christian community as well. I say “suppose” not because I at all doubt my beliefs, but because the word “Christian” is now unfortunately such a broad term. If “Christian” means to you that I believe in God and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then please feel free to call me a Christian. If “Christian” means to you that I am a homophobic bigot or anything in between, than I would prefer that you refer to me only as a God-Lover or Christ-Follower, because that is truly what I am. And as a Christ-Follower, I believe that it is my job to love everyone, no matter who they are, where they have come from, no matter race, religion, or sexual preference; my job is to love. Period.
I have not signed any petitions, voiced any support of Phil Robertson and I won’t for three reasons.
Number one: I would be a hypocrite if I did. A lot of the outrage that I’m hearing is from people believing that Phil Robertson’s First Amendment Rights have been violated. If I were to speak out on his behalf for that reason, then I would have to speak out for every other person who has been fired or received a reprimand as a result of something they had said.
The next time someone gets in trouble for taking a shot at Christians, are we going to get up in arms and defend their rights under the First Amendment? Somehow I doubt that very much. What people from both sides of the fence don’t always seem to realize is that free speech goes both ways. And if we are going to fight for it one way, we need to expect to have it come the other way as well.
Number Two: The First Amendment basically promises that a person will not be arrested for speaking their opinion, it does not however give people the right to say whatever they want and not have any consequences for that. As far as I know, Phil Robertson was not led away in chains, he was not imprisoned, and he does not have a court date.
His employer has the right, as every employer does, to fire or lay off a person for misrepresenting their company or name. I have a friend that was fired a week ago for using language that their employer felt was inappropriate for the workplace and misrepresented them to their patrons. It was their right to do so. And before anyone even tries to tell me that Phil Robertson is being persecuted for his beliefs, let me point out that he was simply put on a hiatus. They have already said that he is coming back. The show Duck Dynasty is still running; there is in fact a Duck Dynasty marathon that is running today that Phil Robertson will be raking in the money for from residuals.
Number Three: Yes, everyone has a right to their beliefs. The way that Phil Robertson stated his beliefs was vulgar and inappropriate. I have a hard time believing that any of my friends that are a part of the Christian community can really back this statement. This is the direct quote,
“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
He then went on to compare homosexuals to terrorists.
His comments on black people are just as outrageous. Another quote: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
To say that I don’t support the disgusting statements made by this man is an understatement. I will listen to anyone’s opinions or beliefs as long as they are given in a respectful manner. This is beyond disrespectful to me.
As I have said before, I know my view is different than a lot of my friends, and I hope that my view doesn’t hurt any of my relationships. I can have a different opinion than someone and still love them dearly, and I do! I guess, more than anything, what I want people to take from this is that there are many different opinions out there. There are many different viewpoints and beliefs. What I hope we can all come together on is what I think is the most important thing that we are given, and that is love.
As I add my voice to hers, let me conclude with a simple “yes” and “no.” Four of them, actually.
Yes, I love Phil Robertson as a brother in Christ. Yes, I will be praying for he and his family during what must be a difficult time. Yes, I respect the fact that he is a man of uncompromising convictions. And yes, when one of our beloved faith family is hurting, we’re all hurting together.
But No, I won’t add my voice to the cacophony of Christian voices in support of him. No, I won’t rail against the A&E television network. No, I won’t be boycotting their sponsors. And No, I won’t be attending any “I Stand with Phil” rallies or signing any petitions on his behalf given the same three reasons offered by my daughter in her post.
And finally, thank you, Ashley, for calling us to look deeper at a much more complex situation than we may have have at first, with our knee-jerk reactions of support, understood this to be.
In this week’s PODCAST, I am going to take a great big risk and tell you a personal story. A story that I have on rare occasions shared with individuals. But this will be the first time I’ve ever told this story in a public setting.
I tell this story for a number of reasons.
First, of course, because it goes right to the heart of this podcast’s passage. It illustrates precisely the issue to which Jesus was referring here in Matthew 5:33-37, a subject of monumental importance as far as Jesus’ teaching was concerned.
Second, because it gives to you a bit of personal context, a piece of the portrait of my life within which my teaching takes place.
Third, because if the old adage is true — Like pastor, like people — or as the OT puts it, “Like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9), then this explains why there has evolved a pandemic of phoniness in our churches.
Fourth, because this became a defining moment in my life and ministry. It cemented for me an approach to ministry, an approach to life, for which, over the years, I have paid a hefty personal price. And for which I continue to pay a hefty price.
Fifth, because this was one of the most disillusioning experiences of my life, and sent me reeling in terms of my faith. I would not be overstating the case to suggest that it prompted a crisis of faith, not to mention cemented for me what was becoming my perception of the Christian life and church life as a “game people play.”
Sixth: This story perfectly frames Jesus’ concerns as He addressed them here in His Sermon on the Mount.