As you will hear in this PODCAST, on the night before He went to the cross, Jesus made a series of remarkable statements to His disciples, in the Upper Room, during their final Passover Seder together.
John 13-17, those 5 chapters, are often referred to as Upper Room Discourse. They contain rich and rewarding teaching that we’ll dissect and digest in, oh… 3 years or so when we get there. 😉
There is, however, in that wide swath of Scriptural truth one statement that I want to highlight here, that really sets the stage for this discussion.
In John 14, Jesus said this to His disciple Philip, in front of the other 10 (Judas having left to betray Jesus):
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! (vs. 9)
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!
When we began this study of Jesus in HD, we said then, and I remind you frequently, that we are on a journey of discovery. Over two years ago now, we embarked together on an ongoing quest to discover exactly who Jesus is.
In this statement in John 14, Jesus assured us that as we discover together who Jesus is, we are equalling discovering who God is. And this discovery has been nothing short of EXCITING!!!
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!
What we learn about Jesus, we learn about God.
Jesus’ heart is God’s heart.
What Jesus is like, God is like.
What Jesus thinks is what God thinks.
What would Jesus do is what God would do.
And Oh.What.Pleasant.Surprises we have discovered along the way. Soul-enriching, spirit-reviving surprises, that we have uncovered together.
Surprises about the heart of Jesus; surprises about the heart of God.
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THANK YOU for listening! God bless you as you listen.
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.
Really? Did Jesus really say that? Did Jesus really mean that? Did Jesus really command us to do that?
Yes, He did.
So I’ve got to ask: In this context of Matthew 7:1-6, who are the people who are unholy? Who are the pigs (ceremonially unclean animals)? Wanna take a guess?
According to the context of the passage, people who krino others, who “judge” others, are the objects of Jesus’ command, those whom He referred to as “unholy” and “pigs.”
It ought to give us pause. Jesus compared those who “judge” others to unholy and unclean “attackers.”
According to Jesus, what should be our response to those who do judge others/krino us? What should be our response to someone whom Jesus proclaims as unholy and unclean?
This will indeed sound harsh. It needs to be harsh. Harsh words for those of us on the receiving end of such harsh judgmental treatment. Because nothing less than your soul and mine is at stake here. And let me respectfully remind you that Jesus said this, not me! What should be our responses to those who do “judge” us or “judge” others? To Spiritual Abusers? Ready?
Have nothing to do with them.
What should be our responses to those who do appoint themselves as our judges? Who mask their judgment by invoking the culturally Christian mantra, “I’m holding you accountable”?
Have nothing to do with them.
Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t get into an argument with them. Don’t try to correct them. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t debate them. Or in Jesus’ words, Don’t cast your pearls before those who cast stones either in your direction or in the direction of others.
Have nothing to do with them.
Our souls are simply too precious and too fragile to be crushed under heavy loads of guilt heaped upon us courtesy of finger-wagging, verse-spewing, “Christians.”
We are under absolutely under no biblical obligation to tolerate Spiritual Abuse at the hands of another. If that is the price that we must pay to have a relationship with these individuals, then the cost of these relationships is far too much to pay.
Have nothing to do with them.
Jesus taught, and our life experiences confirm, that dialoging with judgers is fruitless, damaging, and too often lethal to our souls. This because judgers will twist the Bible — wield their double-edged swords (Remember that metaphor from our previous discussion? — and use their swords to stab, slash, and decapitate us, decapitate you!
Or in Jesus’ own words, use their Bibles to “turn and attack us.”
Which is exactly what they do. Your soul and mine is too precious to expose ourselves to that kind of judgmental, soul-crushing, spirit-killing treatment.
Hear me: As individual Christ-followers, we are about loving, forgiving, pursuing, redeeming, returning, and welcoming home those who wander away from their ekklesias. We do so because that is what Jesus told His followers to do. The same Jesus who told His followers,
Do not judge others!
The same Jesus who told His followers that when others judge us,
Have nothing to do with them.
If you want to hear the entire discussion, click on the podcast player and get ready to be refreshed.
The deafeningly loud question that now demands an answer is,
Why our propensity to do what Jesus expressly told us not to do? Namely, “Do not judge others”?
The cause, believe it or not, lies in our faulty 4-point theology:
1. We tell people, Just pray a “Jesus Prayer,” or what is sometimes called “the Sinner’s Prayer,”and you’re in.
When we ask someone to tell us their testimony, what are we asking? When/where did you pray the “sinner’s prayer”? We have come to believe that becoming a Christian is all about “asking Jesus into your heart.” IOW, praying a Jesus prayer.
2. We then give them a birthday (You know how Jesus described our new relationship with Him as “being born again”?) a new-birth birthday present: a Bible. Which I’ll remind is called (in Hebrews 4) “a double-edged sword.”
Now that’s quite a metaphor, as you’ll see in mere moments. A double-edged sword.
3. We then teach them that they are competent to use it.
We buttress this claim of competency with verses like John 16:13, which is so typically yanked out of its context and twisted to mean something totally different than the biblical writer intended for it to mean:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
There it is, we tell our newly-born convert. Just pick up your Bible and read it. And as you read it, the Holy Spirit will personally teach you what the Bible says, what the Bible means, how the Bible should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.
I mean, this gets downright frightening! Because we put this doubled-edged sword into the hands of babes whose only claim to fame is that they prayed a prayer.
What, do tell, is the context of John 16:13? The basis of the claim of competency of brand new baby Christians to wield their swords? Listen to what Jesus actually said IN CONTEXT:
There is so much more I want to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you (Who’s the you? Who was in the Upper Room with Jesus when He said this?) into all the truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you what is yet to come.
Not to get too theological on you here. But John 16:13 is NOT what we call an Illumination verse. John 16:13 is a Revelation verse. This passage that has nothing to do with the faulty notion that you and I just pick up our Bibles and read them. And the Holy Spirit will personally teach us what the Bible says, what it means, and how it should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.
If it did, why do we need teachers? Why listen to sermons? Why read commentaries? Why study the languages–vocabulary/grammar? Why understand the culture? Why learn the geography? Why learn the history? Why learn archaeology?
John 16:13 has nothing to do with us. Jesus made this promise to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. This verse has everything to do with the apostles writing the New Testament!
OK, so, pray a prayer and you’re in. Here’s your double-edged sword. You are competent to use it.
4. We then teach them — if you can imagine this — we teach them that the highest virtue of Christian living is to take their Bibles — their double-edged swords, lethal weapons, placed in the hands of these, what Peter called in 1 Peter 2:2, “newborn babies” — and to wield these swords at each other.
How? By “Holding.People.Accountable.” Like some self-appointed judge or Krino.)
Krinos who just LOVE to spot something not quite kosher in your life or mine, wag a finger of judgment at us, spew a memory verse or two, and then smugly walk away thinking that sure did serve Jesus today by taking a stand for His truth.
***And We Wonder Why So Many Sincere Christ-Followers Get Devastated By “Christians” In Church???***
We say that Christians are notorious for shooting their wounded, Yes? I’d suggest that — to use the biblical metaphor — “Christians,” not Christ-followers (You know by now how often I make that subtle-yet-significant distinction) — “Christians” are notorious for stabbing, slashing, and decapitating their wounded.
“Christians” do that. Christ-followers don’t. Why? Because by definition, Christ-followers follow Jesus. They seek to put into practice what Jesus said. They seek to do what Jesus did. And what Jesus said, and what Jesus did was this:
Do not judge others.
“Christians” judge others. They make a sport of judging others. Christ-followers do not.
So one final question to consider: How should you and I respond to those “Christians” who do judge others? We’ll answer that question tomorrow. And the answer to that question will astound you.
But just in case you cannot wait that long, you can hear the entire discussion by clicking here:
And what has the church, and so many of the “Christians” who attend them, become in the process?
We ended our discussion in the previous blog post by making the observation that Matthew 18 is the “go-to” passage when it comes to judging others “holding others accountable.” It has become fashionable today in our evangelical church to suggest that it is a noble thing to hold others accountable, even to the point of remove sinning members from their local churches, all based on Matthew 18.
A noble thing because every time leaders begin the “process of Matthew 18” on a “sinning” church member, they can then make the bold (and sometimes boastful) claim that they are “protecting the purity of the body,” especially when they kick the sinners out.
Doesn’t that sound noble? “Protecting the purity of the body.” Would someone please tell me what that means? I mean, that’s like doctors protecting the health of a hospital by kicking the sick people out. And BTW how’s that for leaders “lording it over” the people? Deciding who’s in and who’s out?
What in God’s name have we become?
Would someone tell me please what local church is in fact pure? It’s the old story. If you find a local church that is indeed pure, please don’t join it. If you do, there goes its purity. “There’s sin in the church,” someone will cry. Yes! You bet there is sin in the church. There was sin in every church that I have ever attended. Know why? Precisely because I was attending it, not to mention everyone else who attended it! Who do we think we are? Paragons of virtue? Pictures of purity?
If Matthew 18 was meant by Jesus to be the process of confronting sinners about their sins, perhaps even to the point of kicking some sinners out of church, where do we start?
May I humbly suggest that this is a common misinterpretation and gross misapplication of Matthew 18 that completely ignores the fact that — Are you ready? — when Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 18, the church wasn’t even in existence yet. Oops.
Ekklesia, translated “church” in Matthew 18, is a general term that means “community.” In our context, for want of a better word, in a “religious” context, an ekklesia refers to a person’s family of faith. A loving redemptive family of faith that gathers together to worship God.
It might just interest you to note that in the LXX, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the word that Jesus used in Matthew 18, ekklesia, occurs 80 times. Jesus’ use of that word was anything but new, novel, or unique.
Ironically, ekklesia does not biblically refer to nonprofit corporations with by-laws, budgets, buildings, business meetings; personnel, payrolls, politics, power-plays, and all of the resultant problems there-to. Ekklesias, as Jesus invoked the term, were never meant to be run like clubs with crosses on them.
Trust me. Neither Jesus nor His disciples were thinking about tax-exempt religious institutions where a person’s membership can, and sometimes should, be revoked. SMH <sigh>
The 3 interpretive keys that unlock this Matthew 18 passage are its context, the word “sins,” and Jesus quoting of Deuteronomy 19:16.
Listen to what Matthew 18 actually says (not what we have been taught is says, not what we want it to say) in its context, sandwiched as it is in between Jesus saying this:
If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? Matthew 18:12
This clearly refers to someone who is tragically teetering on the precipice of losing his or her faith. How do I know that? Because right before that, Jesus warns “anyone (who) causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble…”
We’re talking here about someone whose faith is faltering. Do you really think that Jesus was instructing leaders of churches that at the time did not exist to identify those whose faith is faltering, start a process of Matthew 18 on them, and if need be, kick them out of church? I could cry!
And then this (the other half of the sandwich) immediately following the “Church (that doesn’t even exist) Discipline” part of Matthew 18:
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21-22)
Now watch! Matthew 18 is NOT a “Church Discipline” passage. Nor is it a let’s-hold-sinners accountable passage. Matthew 18 is a redemption passage, a restoration passage. An all-about-leaving-the ninety-nine-sheep-and-going-after-the-one-whose-faith-is-faltering passage. Not to kick that sinning brother or sister out of their family of faith, their ekklesia. They have already left it.
Matthew 18 is all about bringing that precious little lamb back into the fold.
Don’t believe me? Then read it, IN CONTEXT, Matthew18:15-17:
Moreover if your brother sins against you…
Sins: a clear violation of a biblical absolute. In this context, a clear violation of Torah Law. We are not talking here about a violation of someone else’s personal preferences. This has NOTHING to do with someone not approving of someone else’s music preferences, body art, piercings, or any other of the myriad of things for which people get judged nowadays.
Now watch! If the context of this passage, and the character of Jesus means anything, this is clearly, to use Jesus’ own words, a sheep that wanders away from their faith situation, where a beloved member of a faith family wanders away from their faith-family and is in danger of losing his or her faith.
Go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
No gossip here, which is indeed a sin, one of the worst in fact, one that causes division to the unity of any church and untold damage to the subject of the gossip, but one for which anyone is rarely kicked out of church. Hmmm…
LOOK, Matthew 18 is clearly a Galatians 6 situation:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens.
No judging here; no “lording it over” here, no (remember the word from our previous blog post?) krino here!
This is clearly a James 5:19 situation:
My friends, if any followers have wandered away from the truth, you should try to (What? Confront them, and if need be, kick them out of their faith family?) lead them back.
If that person listens, you have won back a follower.
Do you see it? This is clearly referring to a wanderer who returns home to his or her ekklesia, their loving, redeeming, forgiving faith-family.
But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’
Here Jesus quoted the Torah, Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, was teaching Jews about what to do when someone in their faith-family wanders away from the teachings of the Torah.
Matthew 18 has nothing to do with Christian Church Discipline, specifically when and how to start process to kick someone out of the institution that we have come to call a church. Again I will respectfully remind you that at time Jesus said this, there were no churches.
Jesus took what was already the practice, established at the very beginnings of the history of Israel, quoted from Deuteronomy, the Torah, that dealt with those who wandered away from Torah teaching. And Jesus carefully/purposefully/mercifully inserted it between two passages about restoration, redemption, and forgiveness.
And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the Ekklesia.
IOW, to again invoke Jesus’ words, his or her family of faith who will then go looking for their wandering little lamb.
Now here’s the kick-them-out-of-the-church part:
But if he refuses even to hear the church (Ekklesia), let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Striking, isn’t it, that Jesus did NOT say to kick him out of the church! The clear implication, as determined by the context of the passage, is that this wondering little lamb has already left it!
What does this mean, Matthew 18:17 (CEV)?
Anyone who refuses to listen to the church must be treated like an unbeliever or a tax collector.
QUESTION: How did Jesus treat unbelievers and tax collectors? Are you ready for an “Ah-ha” moment of monumental significance? Jesus ATE with them. Jesus loved them. Jesus pursued them. Jesus sought to lovingly return them to fold.
For crying out loud, Matthew who wrote Matthew 18 was a tax collector! What if Jesus had kicked Matthew out of his ekklesia? No! Jesus pursued him! Jesus left the 99 sheep and went after the one who wandered away.
And Jesus told us do same!
How did Jesus treat a member of a family of faith who wandered away? Judge him? Kick him out of family? Hear Jesus’ own answer, Jesus’ own selfie of what this looks like: An all-to-familiar story, the story of the so-called Prodigal Son, someone who did indeed lose his faith and left his family:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him (looking, praying, hoping, expecting his return!), was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Umm, excuse me. But that doesn’t sound like judging, krinoing, kicking him out of the family to me. This son had already left the family!!! That’s the point! It’s all about coming home!
The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned (same word as Matthew 18) against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
I am no longer worthy to be in your family. How should an ekklesia act toward its wandering family members who abandon their faith to choose a lifestyle of sin? Krino them? Kick them out of the church? Shun them?
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Now, I need to ask, Is there ever a time to remove someone from a family of faith? Yes. Paul did. Once. Coincidentally, in my 40 years of ministry, I have been involved in what was clearly a remove someone from the church process only once. (And BTW, the church blinked, didn’t remove him, subsequently split, and is today a dying ministry, a church whose lampstand God has extinguished. But I digress…)
Again, this only happened in my 40 years of ministry once!
In all of his 13 letters, Paul called for what we typically call “Church Discipline” only once.
Remember the story? 1 Corinthians 5? A guy involved in ongoing, public, present-tense sins so extreme that Paul described them as something that even pagans don’t do. Yet, the church ethos was such that this scandalous individual felt comfortable in his scandalous behavior, even to the point where the church bragged about how progressive they had become!
Corinth as a faith-community had become an uber-sinful ekklesia. And isn’t it fascinating that Paul rebuked the church, not the individual. Once in 13 letters did Paul call for the removal of a sinning member. And even then Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians for the church to restore this repentant sinner to his ekklesia.
Back to the rule, not the exception to the rule. What we have come to call “Church Discipline” I would prefer to call an Ekklesian Celebration of Restoration.
Yes, indeed! Matthew 18 is in every sense of the words a Celebration of Restoration.
So how did we get to this place of judging others? “Holding others accountable”? Even to the point of considering it a noble practice to kick others out of their churches? Why has it become fashionable to krino others to their everlasting hurt and destruction? You’ll discover the answer in tomorrow’s post. And the answer will amaze you.
But in case you can’t wait, you can hear it all explained by clicking on this podcast player: