Saturday, December 01, 2007

# 229: To Judge or Tolerate?

The liberties and equal rights given to us by our Constitution are precious. And yet there is a dark side to these wonderful rights. The result of that seemingly priceless gift is in conflict with much of what is taught in the Christian’s only instruction book, something many of us forgot: Every and any Christian teaching must come only from the original source (the New Testament).

And yet, in America and the world, we see many versions of that teaching which are in discord with what is unequivocally commanded. Since they (all unbiblical “christian” groups) have the liberty to believe as they like, who is there to stop them from calling themselves genuine Christians?

That has been the biggest failing of Christendom. Then we say to ourselves, "If they choose to believe as they do, no sweat off our backs." That type of tolerance for all types of Christian religions condones (it’s okay and acceptable by me) the evil they do, and the good they don’t do. Then you wonder why many thinking people (intellectuals, etc.) call the Christian religion and our God a lot of hogwash. And they have a right to believe that way. Deviating from obeying the actual words of Scripture by many/most “christian” groups has been the fuel needed by atheists to believe as they do. The apostle Paul writes to believers in Rome to reprimand them concerning ungodly actions: Romans 2:23. "God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles [non-believers] because of you."

Of course, no genuine Christian should or could use force to get anyone to believe as the Bible dictates. But we have an alternative: Openly rebuke them as to the error of their beliefs. 1st Timothy 5:20. "Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly so that others may take warning." Do we do that? Absolutely not. We say, "Who are we to judge?" And in its place we tolerate any belief system, insisting, “It is none of our business.” We have freedom of religion in the U.S.

Along with that, they say (according to Matthew 7:1-2), "Do not judge, or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Only thing is, go down to verse 5. "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (First we must clean up our own lives, and then we will be able to judge the other person/s correctly.) This section is instructing us that we must judge others who are not living according to Christ’s commands, thus keeping the Christian religion pure and holy.

Of vital importance, our judgment must be with loving concern and compassion for the spiritual welfare of those we are critiquing, and at the same time we must welcome with open arms the judging of ourselves, if and when others see we have wavered from Scriptural truth. This type of attitude would, most likely, keep Christianity in its highest degree of purity to its original intent. Then those who don’t adhere to Biblical- based judgments should be classified by those who do as belonging to a religion other than Christianity, to their dismay.

On the other hand, tolerance—which accepts many/all beliefs and actions as acceptable even though they may be contrary to New Testament truths—is a ferocious enemy of all that is holy and true. America coddles this type of action under the guise “freedom of religion,” which our Constitution mandates.

How would Jesus Christ respond to all the false varieties of the religion which uses His name, if He was living in the 21st century? He would do just one thing and continue doing it: harshly denounce them, in no uncertain terms, as He did to the religious leaders of His day. Let’s quote just a few verses from Matthew, Chapter 23, verse 24. "You blind guides. You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." Verse 25. ". . . but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Verse 27. "You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean." Verse 28. “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." Just one more: Verse 33. “You snakes. You brood of vipers."

Also see Matthew 11:20. "Then Jesus began to denounce (judge) the cities in which most of His miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.” Verse 23. “If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day."

It is no wonder the religious leaders so desperately wanted to kill Him, and finally did. He would not and could not tolerate all the evil they were doing—mostly being hypocrites—in the name of Jehovah God.

Another thing to consider: Just about all the writers of books of the New Testament criticized/judged its readers as to correct teachings in accordance with The Father’s Will. For the most part, those holy men would/could not tolerate erroneous beliefs or actions, again, using corrective words (judgment) to counter their false beliefs and actions.

In the 21st century, the damage the Christian religion is doing now—again, not telling what needs to be told—is many times worse, since there are millions more people who call themselves Christians but are not. They believe “Once a Christian, always a Christian,” regardless of whether they obey Christ’s commands or not.

How would Christ treat the religious leaders of today who live like hypocrites by not telling their listeners the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but only what they desire to hear, which many times is personally up-building? Answer: The same way He denounced the leaders 2,000 years ago. Again, our mission as disciples of Christ is not so much personal up-building, but furthering the cause He started (making our Father known) with all our energies.

Listen to the words the risen Christ says to the churches in Revelation 2:2. "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested [judged] those who claim to be apostles but are not."

Christ speaking to the church at Thyatira: Revelation 2:20. "Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess." How many modern-day Jezebels does the "christian" church not only tolerate but embrace?

Since we are His ambassadors and disciples, we must act the same way, since Jesus Christ is, or is supposed to be, our only role model (paradigm).

Concerning 1st Corinthians 3:15: "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment." The question comes up, How can we tell a spiritual man/woman from the counterfeit? Only one way: by the type of fruit, good works or deeds one produces, thus having a wholehearted desire to obey all the commands in the New Testament, regardless of how absurd they may seem. That obedience must come from the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus, and not from just blind obedience. The only thing I would add to the aforementioned verse is this: The spiritual man/woman in all his/her purity and honesty must not only welcome, but animatedly desire, judgment/critique by others who are spiritual, since we all have the potential to be less than Christ desires.

In ending, starting 2,000 years ago, if lack of tolerance was practiced and Godly judgment was welcome as described herein, our Christian church would, most likely, be one united in faith, love and holiness. As it is, regardless of what we do at this time, the problem of favoring tolerance and not judging all who disregard what is commanded in New Testament Scripture is beyond repair. All we can do about it at this time is to point “christian” denominations, cults, etc. to the Word of God, hoping a few will realize what it means to be genuine Christians, and not to mimic the truth with just empty words of faith, love and obedience. Amen.

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