Tag Archives: judging others

God’s Not Dead 2 Movie Warns of Scary Judgment by God But What Is God’s Judgment Really?

 

One of the noted lines in the movie God’s Not Dead 2 is,

“I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God.”

 

Stand With God Not Be Judged movieGrace Wesley, the main character, was not going to be afraid to say the name Jesus and concluded her stand with Jesus meant she would avoid God’s judgment, but the world would get what’s coming to them.

Gee whiz, the implications of this quote are an offense to all that Jesus did for the world –in His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension! Yet, most religious Christians would say a hearty ‘Amen!’ to Grace’s seemingly brave conclusion.

World, Please Forgive

No wonder the world is offended by and critical of religious Christianity. No wonder there was vitriol portrayed by unbelievers in this movie. I am sorry World for how we have presented God. Please forgive us, we are perpetuating lies about God to you, and even ourselves.

Comeback

Now some believers will get up in arms. They will vociferously declare, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Rom 14:10)

Great! I love this verse, for it speaks of intimacy and of complete revelation of our true identity, actually of all men’s true identity.

Say what?!

Context for the Judgment Seat

To grasp the fullness of this beautiful welcoming “judgment seat”, let’s consider the context –  Romans chapter 9-15, dealing with judging others.

Paul is challenging the Jews with their uppity self-righteousness, their exclusivity, and being offended that God would include Gentiles. Paul blasted away with Isaiah’s bold words – “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made visible and was comprehended by those who did not ask for Me.” (Rom 10:20) Yikes, that shoots a hole in the traditional sinner’s prayer!

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand for God is able to make him stand.” (Rom 14:4)

“So why do you judge your brother, why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Rom 14:10)

The Judgment Seat via Greek

Here’s the skinny on Rom 14:10-12 through Greek meanings. It’s wondrous!

…We will all stand close beside the elevated place, the throne of God. For the Lord says, “As I live, every knee shall bow to Me and every tongue shall confess – i.e. consent fully, give thanks, praise, fully agree and acknowledge that agreement openly and without reservation, to God.” Therefore, each of us with full comprehension of himself, shall give ‘logos’ (a word, divine utterance, ‘logos’ is used preeminently of  incarnate Christ Jesus to express the thoughts of the Father) to God. Therefore, let’s not judge one another anymore.

Please note:

  • the same Greek word for stand is used in Lk 2:22 when Jesus was ‘presented’ to the Lord – i.e. stand, ready to present, to bring near into fellowship and intimacy. There is no standing and trembling in either of these passages. Hmmm.
  • most translations use the word ‘account’ – give an account to God. Sounds scary! But the Greek word is ‘logos’!

In summary – while being close to Him, everyone will bow and give thanks to Him, as they fully see their true identity in Christ Jesus and totally agree with God’s logic.

Amazing!

Dig In

  • Judgment of all sin took place at the Cross. His death brought the end of sin. There is no more judgment for sin. (Heb 9:26, 10:10,12 2Cor 5:21  Jn 1:29) Why do we still fear that and proclaim it?
  • Jesus does not judge according to the flesh. Paul finally got that by revelation. (Jn 8:15 2Cor 5:13-16)
  • Judgment is scary to many Christians. Our legalistic, works-driven, guilt-induced, fear-filled mind set cannot comprehend that God has always been for us, desires us, enjoys us. In our religious stupor we simply cannot grasp that God truly reconciled the world to Himself. May revelation undo you, so you can stand with God in agreement about His wondrous judgment of innocence and reconciliation for all. (Eph 1:4,5 3:19  2Tim 1:9  1Jn 4:17 2Cor 5:19 Col 1:22) It is part of growing in fullness. It will change your perspective!

Is God A Judge? What Is God’s Judgment? Who Gets Judged?

What is God’s judgment and who gets judged?

Many Christians believe God’s judgment happens when He comes back. He will separate the goats from the sheep. God will get those nasty evil people who refused to repent and ask Jesus into their lives.

My goodness what a vindictive and punitive mindset to have about God who loved the world!

Scary judgment versus True judgment

Judgment is a confusing and scary topic. Religion makes it so.

If we do not understand His judgment through His everlasting lovingkindness, then it will continue to be intimidating, unsettling, and fearful.

Understanding of true judgment comes when we recognize that everyone is made in the image of God, God does not make bad reflections, and He sent His Son to restore this truth.

Is God A Judge?

Does God judge?

Sadly religious Christianity preaches that God is a judge – meaning, someday He will deal with all this sin in the world and all those sinners. He will pound the gavel and declare “guilty” or “innocent”.

Really?

What do we do with the following scriptures that negate this religious vindictive punitive mindset?

  • God didn’t send His Son to judge the world, but that the world be saved through Jesus. (Jn 3:17)
  • The Father judges no one (nothing) but gave all judgment to the Son. (Jn 5:22)
  • I can do nothing of Myself. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (Jn 5:30)
  • You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. (Jn 8:15)
  • …I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (Jn 12:47)
  • God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them. (2Cor 5:19)
  • While we were sinners, Christ died for us and justified us by His blood and saved us. (Rom 5:8,9)
  • When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through His Son’s death, and since reconciled we are saved. (Rom 5:10)
  • Through one man’s offense judgment resulted, so through one Man’s righteous act resulted justification (GR. acquittal, absolution, approval) to all. (Rom5:18)

Sure looks like God is a non-judge Judge! Or His definition of judging is certainly different than ours.

Example of non-Judge judging

When Jesus said, “you judge according to the flesh, I judge no one”, He was speaking to those judging the woman caught in adultery. The self-righteous wanted to stone her to death, because the law commanded it.

But, Jesus had no words of condemnation. He came to fulfill (perfect) the law. Its perfection meant He spoke to her true identity. When He said ‘go and sin no more’, He didn’t mean do not commit adultery ever again. Jesus was exposing her emptiness and speaking of her true identity.

Sin (hamartia) means to have no share, to have no part, to be without, to be empty, to have no substance, to miss the mark.

Our mark, our identity, our part, our origin is God and He made us to enjoy and reflect His fullness of goodness. When we do things that don’t reflect Him we are without substance, without share. We are left empty as are others affected by our lack.

Jesus did not judge her actions, He spoke to her true being and for her “to be” so!

Meaning of Judge and Judgment

judge (krínō) – I judge, decide, to separate, distinguish, think good

judgment (krísis) – a decision, a judgment, divine judgment

Now, isn’t it interesting that ‘judge’ also means ‘think good’?

If “God is good and all the time God is good.”, then why wouldn’t His judgment be to ‘think good’ of all of us? Certainly something to think about.

Dig In

  • We tend to see judgment as a negative thing. We hope to escape God’s judgment because we believe it will be fierce. How quick we are to gloss over – God did not come to judge, but to save the whole wide world!
  • God’s judgment is reconciliation, restoration, salvation. The Greek word for salvation means deliverance, preservation, healing, wholeness. God is not against man, He is for man – His wondrous reflection. We have believed lies about ourselves. God’s judgment dealt a death blow to those lies and falsehoods. One day He is coming to make it very clear who we all really are, in the meantime He is bringing this truth here and now. Yay!
  • If we understood what His judgement really means, then exceeding joy would be our confidence and perspective. One big result – we would judge with a “righteous judgment” – just like His.

God Was Not Angry With Saul of Tarsus, Nor Is God Angry At You Or The Taliban!

Has God ever been angry at you? Could He get angry at you if you do the wrong thing?

How about God being angry at the Taliban? Surely, He’s had it with the recently released “Taliban Dream Team”? Isn’t God ready to destroy them for all the mass killing they have done?Is God Angry?

Talking about destruction, are you ready to have your misperceptions about an angry God blown up? Some might say “Oh, yes!” Then there will be some who say, “No way! I know I am totally right in my world view of God. I know all my doctrines, traditions, teachings are totally accurate. Don’t you mess with my religious paradigms.” If your response is the latter, please stop reading.

Let’s see if Saul of Tarsus’ encounter with Jesus blows holes in our mindsets about an angry God.

Saul of Tarsus’ actions should anger God

  • destroyed, ravaged, harassed believers (the church)
  • exceedingly enraged against Christians
  • punished believers
  • murdered and agreed to killing many believers
  • compelled believers to blaspheme Christ’s name
  • persecuted the church, known as the Way
  • imprisoned men and women, and beat them
  • was extremely zealous for his traditions and God
  • believed he was obeying his God and doing the right thing

See any similarities when it comes to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, dedicated terrorists?

God’s Response

What was God’s response to Saul’s raging actions? Beat him up? Reject him? Doom him to hell? Have nothing to do with Saul until he repented his brains out?

For some reason, I had this picture that Saul got knocked off his donkey by that bright light, as he traveled to Damascus. Maybe it was from a cartoon or an illustration about this story? Anyway, with that image in my imagination, I read into this Damascus Road story a violent interruption by God.

To my surprise, there is no donkey mentioned in Paul’s account! It is just a brilliant light surrounding Saul, and he then falls to the ground. So much for an angry God!

Paul believed in an angry God

Now remember, Saul’s upbringing included doing many sacrifices to keep God happy. Hey, kind of like the heathens appeasing all their pagan deities with their sacrifices! Hmmm.

As far as Saul/Paul was concerned, he and God were on the same page. You blow it, you don’t follow the one true God, you pay. Hence, Saul’s ravaging anger and destruction.

But God had a good plan for Saul/Paul. God knew who he really was, what He had made in His image. And God knew the perfect timing to awaken Saul to His unconditional love for him and Paul’s true identity. No wonder Paul would later pen, “nothing can separate us from the love of God…!”

Misguided zeal

Paul gained greater clarity – “they have a zeal for God but not in accordance with knowledge.” (Rom 10:2) My, what zeal Saul had for his ‘god’. Of course it was a vindictive zeal. Boy, was he off! God is not vindictive, and never has been.

Saul’s vindictive zeal came out of self righteousness! Saul of Tarsus had been totally ignorant of God’s righteousness, and was good at establishing his own. (Rom 10:3)  After all, he followed the letter of the law to the “T”.

What knowledge?

Now, what is this “knowledge” of which Paul speaks?

Knowledge in the face of Christ Jesus! (2Cor 4:6)

Hey, remember, that Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father…No one knows the Father except the Son…the Father and I are One…the Father who dwells in Me does the works themselves…the Father tells Me what I should say…If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…”

Saul thought he knew God. But he didn’t because He didn’t know Jesus. It was only when Jesus showed up that Saul/Paul finally began to know the One true God.

Did Jesus ever pour out wrath on anyone while He walked this earth? Nope. Have you ever pondered how nonviolent Jesus was?

Somehow we forget that Jesus was showing us exactly who the Father God was. We still like to impose man’s misunderstanding and limited view of God in the Old Testament onto who Jesus displayed God to be.

God did speak in various times and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He gave His final word about Himself, and us, through His Son. (Heb 1:1-3) We must look to Jesus, and Jesus only, to see who God really is!

No longer judge according to the flesh

If we truly understand Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”, then we would no longer judge anyone according to the flesh. Jesus said, I judge no one. (Jn 8:15) Paul said, in light of the reconciliation that happened at the cross, they too, no longer regard anyone according to the flesh. (2Cor 5:16)

God and Jesus were not angry with Saul. They did not judge Saul according to the flesh, nor do they judge anyone that way. Even so, God and Jesus are not angry at the Taliban. And God and Jesus are not angry at you either. In fact, the One true God is not angry at anybody!

Dig In

  • God knows how to arrest everyone’s attention to get them to see the truth about His love and acceptance. If He did that for Saul/Paul, wouldn’t He do it for the “Taliban Dream Team”? Wouldn’t He do it for everyone? After all, God is impartial.
  • God loved the world. And He still loves the world. If violent behavior is not beyond God’s love, then why would we think anything else would be either?
  • God is Love. Love bears all things – even our misunderstandings of Him. Love endures all things. Love never fails. Truly love won at the cross. There was no ‘God anger or wrath’ at the cross, only reconciliation. (2Cor 5:19) Any anger that you think was there is man’s own anger. We were ‘enemies’ (Greek – hostile) in our minds. (Col 1:21) Ditch the anger mindset about God – it is a lie.

What Does It Mean to Abide In The Vine? Part One -The Wrong Way!

Do you abide in the Vine? How? When? Why? Where?

Shoot, all I knew was, I sure didn’t want to be one of those branches that gets cut off and thrown into the fire! That thought alone is enough to make me want to abide or at least die trying to!

Come on now. Is that what Jesus was trying to get across in His message about the Vine and the branches? You had better abide, or else.

Have you ever noticed how we Christians are notorious for wanting a step by step plan to:

  • Do it right
  • Be right
  • Please God
  • Impress God/others
  • Mature in things of God
  • Advance the kingdom
  • Do our duty
  • Show how thankful we are for His ultimate sacrifice by doing and obeying

Hey, maybe just give me 3 points, and I will do it. How about a list, then I can check it off. I know, let’s make a chart and the visual impact will be a big motivator!How NOT To Abide

Sound familiar?

Truly I did not understand Paul’s words – “…they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:2-4)

Confession time – I was one zealous believer back in the day. I had no clue of “knowledge”, even though I thought I did! Hey, I even remember using that phrase, “they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”, as a way to judge others! Sick, huh?

Paul nailed it with this wonderful description of those of us who, in misguided sincerity, are trying so hard. Our fervor and zeal only wear us out, they don’t do a lick to develop any righteousness or please God, let alone abide. But we can’t see that, because we busy doing the stuff, or feeling guilty for not doing the stuff.

By the way, do you see how our “step by step” formulaic mindset is another way of establishing our own righteousness?

Geesh, I’m so thankful in my ‘old’ age He finally broke through all the religious mindsets to show me what He really wants. Has to do with fullness and freedom!

Okay, back to the Abiding topic.

Traditional Christian responses on how to abide:

  • “Quiet time” is necessary – BE STILL, focus on Him, renounce any wandering thoughts, write down wandering thoughts so they stop wandering.
  • Make sure you sincerely worship God, which best happens with worshipful music. In fact, some believe you can only truly worship with music.
  • “Carpet time” might help. (For those who aren’t familiar with that phrase, this means laying prostrate on the ground as you worship Him or are ‘still’. Not to say this is a bad thing to do, but it gets twisted as a work, a should, a must, a need to – particularly to show Him you are humbling yourself.
  • Read the Bible and meditate on scripture. Even memorizing scripture will show Him you really want to abide.
  • Pray in tongues, but do it quietly for true abiding. 🙂

Is that what God had in mind when Jesus said “Abide in Me, and I in you.”? (Jn 15:4)

Dig In

  • Are you good at abiding by doing stuff? Have you been caught in the religious works traps of abiding? Please realize you don’t have to stay trapped.
  • Do you like three step formulas, check lists, charts? Have you ever tracked your abiding success rate from these things? Having done the stuff do you feel restful, full, and certain?
  • What kind of fruit do you bear with the traditional Christian ways of abiding? What kind of fruit do you think God is looking for when we truly abide?

Next post we will find out what God had in mind about abiding! You just might be surprised!

Does Religious Christian Evangelism Present The Wrong Gospel Part 2

In Part 1 the main focus of the traditional gospel message was explained – the gospel revolves around man’s sin/Adam’s fall. I call it the ‘Fallen Man Gospel’. The traditional gospel sets up many believers for negative consequences.

I see five harmful consequences that come out of the sin focused gospel. Today I will cover three of them.

1. Guilt and Fear Rule

Since the traditional gospel emphasizes you are a sinner and in need of a Savior, this sure stirs the internal pot of guilt, condemnation, and shame. Then fear is Guilt and Fear Ridden Sinner/Believerstirred up because of the prospect of going to hell, if you don’t ask God for forgiveness and ask Jesus to be your Savior. For some fear can continue to hang around with thoughts of, “What if I blow it big time with God?”

The word says His perfect love casts out fear (1Jn 4:18), yet so many Christians still struggle with fear – fear of God Himself, fear of failure, fear of disappointing God, fear of rejection. Could it be the Fallen Man Gospel gives a distorted message of His love?

Even though the traditional gospel message preaches how much God loves you, there will be this sense that ‘you are less than’ until you get cleaned up. And if you ever get ‘dirty’ again, then you are back to being ‘less than’.

This is not to say that some will experience a wonderful sense of ‘cleansing’ when encountering Jesus for the first time. Unfortunately, despite this cleansing, a not quite measuring up will linger or resurface in many a Christian’s life. This should not be if we truly understood the fullness of the Good News.

2. Sin Consciousness Encourages Judging and Favoritism

The traditional evangelistic gospel encourages judging and favoritism by other believers. The sin focus sets us up to itemize and determine which are the worst sins or failures. This helps believers to judge each other by their behavior/sin and determine their relationship with God by it. This kind of judging can also set up favoritism among the brethren.

Then there is judgment on unbelievers. The sin conscious gospel helps some believers to conclude that those who do the ‘worse sins’ will not be saved. Since we tend to side with the used and abused victims, the perpetrators get little or no compassion. In fact, some believers think that those who do horrendous violence or harm to others, surely go to hell. Then there are those sinners who squander their lives in wantonness and selfishness – shaky ground for them. And of course those who never repent of their sins definitely do not go to heaven. So goes the judging and favoritism that unfolds for those who adhere to the Fallen Man Gospel.

But you know what?! Those who do this kind of judging and partiality cannot be judged either! We must remember they are ignorant of the truth of the pure gospel. They are simply deceived and swallowed up in traditional doctrine and its negative consequences. They are consequently set up to judge others and even themselves. Satan loves it, but God is faithful to set them free.

3. Perpetuates the System and Expectations

The traditional Fallen Man Gospel keeps the religious church system going. When the emphasis is on  neediness and shortcomings, then saved sinners (or yet to be saved attendees) need to hear messages (AKA sermons) on to how to continue to clean up their lives, become more effective Christians, and of course please God. Along with these messages will be many activities that believers should do. These help keep them involved in the system, but never coming into their true identity in Christ.

Isn’t it interesting that most believers, in spite of good preaching and hearing the ‘Good News’, will at some point in their lives experience – striving, doubt, confusion, times of dryness, apathy, depression, disappointment, weariness, frustration, burnout, failure, and of course fear and guilt in their relationship with God. Been there, done all that!

Horror of horrors, if they were ever to leave the system because of any of the above, then their very salvation could be at risk, so goes the inference from Churchianity.

In addition, the religious system releases a gnawing guilt that will hound those who leave the structure. Hmm, is there a ‘pre-guilt’ and ‘post-guilt’ at work among the brethren who receive the traditional good news?

Do you realize there is no guilt in grace, but there is guilt involved in law? “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”(James 2:10)

So, if you struggle with guilt, just know you are living under the law. Don’t be that guy! If guilt is directed your way by others or by the system, just know they are bound up in law and deceived. Don’t accept it!

What It Is Not and What It Is

In Christ Jesus there is no guilt, no fear, no judgment, no favoritism, no expectations, no sin, no works, no laws.

In Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is unconditional acceptance, utter delight over you, unspeakable joy, union, unconditional love, assurance, security, certainty, peace beyond understanding, free to love and be loved, free to know and be known, free to give and receive, free to be who He really made you to be. Now we’re getting to the truth! Oh the glories of the pure Good News!

Dig In

  • The Fallen Man Gospel is not really good news. It’s message does not allow you to be who you really are.
  • If you have succumbed to any of the above negative consequences please know there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. You don’t have to be stuck or caught up in them. Remember, He came to set you free!
  • God knows who we really are, and His Good News shouts that out.

Part 3 will look at two other negative consequences of the Fallen Man Gospel.

Do You Go To Church

The previous post was about all the shoulds  that Christians think they have to do.  I did these shoulds for over fifty years. I never would have thought to do it any other way until God stirred up this question in me over six years ago – “What is church?” At the time little did I know what that question would bring. The life-giving answers are gradually unfolding. Now I get Jesus’ words to His disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (Jn 16:12)

As we explore these Christian shoulds in detail over several weeks please know the purpose is to bring understanding of things that hinder us from grasping, receiving, and enjoying the incredible fullness that Jesus has for us. If there was something that kept me from getting more of Him I sure would want to know that, even if it meant challenging my long time held religious traditions. A sobering thought – what if we were so sure about an established tradition and never heard or realized it was limiting our fullness in Him?

Let’s look at the should of “go to church every Sunday”, with the focus on judgment and location.

Here is a very common, seemingly innocent, question among Christians:

“Where do you go to church?”Going to Church

Why do we ask that question? What do we do with the answer? That is where judgment can come in.

The ‘where do you go to church?’ question enables some Christians to ‘size up’ someone’s spirituality. The person’s answer usually revolves around a particular denomination, non-denomination, perhaps even a location. From this information the questioner will quickly internally process their doctrine, traditions, rituals, worship format, etc. Then a determination will be made if the questioner agrees with and could possibly fellowship with that person. For goodness sake, we might even decide if that person is saved! Basically, a judgment of someone is easily and quickly formed by the ‘where do you go to church?’ question. Have we ever stopped to realize how judgmental that question can be?!

Additionally, implied in this question, is the assumption that ‘where’ is a critical aspect of our Christian faith and relationship with God. ‘Where’ speaks of a location.

A most telling dialogue about ‘where’ is found in John 4:20-24 during Jesus’ engaging conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman told Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus then clearly explained to her a time is coming when neither in that mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. He pointedly said the Father is seeking those that will worship Him in spirit and in truth. In fact, Jesus also said, “those who worship Him must (emphasis mine) worship in spirit and truth.”  With this unheard-of-before clarification, Jesus was totally eliminating the mindset of a location, a place, a geographic area in order to go to church or do church stuff. Along with the voiding of a specific location Jesus was also dismantling the rituals of worship that take place at the location. Think about that.

Now consider what He told his disciples about the building at the location – even the ‘building’ would not be part of their relationship with God! In Mark 13:1-2, Jesus was going out of the temple and one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.” In 70 AD, the Temple of Solomon was totally destroyed by the Romans, not one stone left upon another. Can you imagine, God let His special holy building be demolished!

Have you ever heard words that praise certain church buildings – extolling their beauty, their size, their uniqueness, their features? Is it possible that we have a misguided emphasis on a structure, a building, and all its creature comforts? Have we personified buildings? Why is it we can easily find ‘beauty’ in buildings but we have trouble finding beauty in each other? Perhaps it is easier to find ‘beauty’ in the leaders and clergy but do we really see the ‘beauty’ and ‘uniqueness’ in each other, i.e. what some call the laity. Or is the laity’s specialness seen more in what they can do to be an asset to the building and its programs?

Here is one more scriptural reference to help us see that location and the building are not key to our faith growth. Stephen said in Acts 7:46-49 that though David found favor in God’s sight and wanted to build a house for God, his son Solomon ended up building a huge, ornate house for Him. Then, surprisingly, Stephen declared “However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool of My feet; what kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord, ‘Or what place is there for My repose?’ So was Solomon’s monumental temple project for naught? It had a glory but there was a greater glory coming in regards to a building and a house. Us!

Yet, given these scriptural passages, every Sunday most Christians head for a building with the idea that is where they will meet God.

Church leadership reinforces this mindset with comments like:

  • ‘Isn’t it great to be in the house of God?’
  • ‘Welcome to the house of God.’
  • ‘God is sure in His house today.’

Then parents reinforce it to their children:

  • ‘You need to dress up because we are going to God’s house today.’
  • ‘Don’t run in the house of the Lord. This is a holy place.’
  • ‘Shhh, this is God’s house.’

I am not saying going to church is bad or wrong. This is what most of us know – it is comfortable, familiar, and can be a blessing. But here is a telling dynamic for those that feel they should go to church – what if they don’t go? What is the resulting feeling? I imagine you can answer that question, maybe by experience. Is a building to have that much influence in our lives, that it would produce guilt and fear in us if we don’t go to it? Granted it is not the building per se, but it is other ‘church building’ people who would question our lack of attendance. That is not God!

The Lord is never into confining and limiting His people, but buildings and denominations can do that. Christians may say they are His building, made of living stones, which is truth and scriptural (see 1Cor 3:9,16  2Cor 6:16  1Pet 2:5  Ps 132:13). But do we really get that? If we let ourselves be ruled by guilt and fear in terms of we should ‘go to church’, then it indicates we don’t really understand we are the church or how He meant for her to function.

Dig In

  • It is not ‘where do you go to church?’ that determines anyone’s spirituality. God wants to free us from that kind of thinking that sets us up to judge others and even ourselves. What He cares about is that His Son lives in and flourishes in us. May we focus on and rejoice in that only, for each other.
  • If location and a building determine your connecting with God then consider you might be missing out on more fullness. God is Spirit and He is not confined to a location or a structure.
  • Ask God to grace you with more revelation about what church really is!

Why Wasn’t Simon the Pharisee Hospitable?

Luke 7:36-50
Simon asked Jesus over for dinner. They began to eat. Jesus makes no mention of Simon’s lack of normal hospitable etiquette towards Him. Not until the immoral woman shows up to express her profound appreciation of Jesus, did Jesus say something to Simon. I don’t think Jesus was offended at the lack of customary guest care. He was more concerned about Simon’s small heart and trying to help him see the size of his heart. Simon was missing out on fullness.

What did Jesus point out to Simon that he did not offer in the way of hospitality?

  • No water to wash the guest’s feet – either a servant would do that for the guest or the guest would wash their own.  To elaborate: washing feet is a humbling act – perhaps Simon didn’t want to give any indicators of humbling himself before Jesus.
  • No oil for the guest’s dry skin on one’s head.  To elaborate: oil can be symbolic of an anointing from God on someone’s life to empower them in God’s kingdom work. Maybe Simon didn’t want to acknowledge Jesus’ anointing by adding any more oil! In addition there might be the thought – Hey, where’s my anointing? Someone needs to give me oil!
  • No kiss for the guest – a kiss represented an affectionate or respectful form of greeting.  To elaborate: Simon might have thought Jesus was already getting enough honor from the crowds. The problem – he was not even sure Jesus deserved it. Mind you, He keeps breaking the law on the Sabbath! In addition Simon might have mulled – where is the honor I should be getting, doesn’t anyone notice all my hard work for God?

What motivated this lack of common courtesies?

  • Had Simon judged Jesus? He certainly did when he thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner?” (Lk 7:39)
  • Was he jealous of Him? Surely Simon was aware of, perhaps even witnessed, the many healings and deliverances from unclean spirits that Jesus was doing. If so, he would have seen the masses running after Jesus. What a threat to someone who wants to be important.
  • How about competition? Of course in this situation it would be one-sided – obviously Jesus is not in competition with anyone. But Simon was used to competition among his peers – who could keep the rules the best.

Some might consider Simon’s behavior Passive-aggressive. I’d like to call it Simon-withholding behavior. Ever had Simon-withholding in your personal life? Ever seen it in today’s church? In the church we might recognize it as competition and jealousy – among denominations, within a denomination, within local churches, or among ministry leaders.

This jealousy and competition can manifest itself in the church by:

  • Boasting about and comparing attendance or offerings
  • Comparing who has the best preaching/teaching anointing – then striving to be better than…
  • Determining who moves best in certain gifts of the Spirit – thus exalting some, limiting most
  •  Vying for more ‘air time’ or ‘platform time’

Isn’t it something that because of jealousy, comparisons, and competition we can knowingly or unknowingly withhold affection or support, use flattery with a hidden agenda to move ‘upward’, fall into fault finding and criticizing, and succumb to complaining and murmuring? The result – no fullness.

Dig In

  • It’s good to remember that Jesus is always extending grace to all – He wants sinners and Pharisees (who are also sinners, they just don’t know it) to receive His fullness.
  • When we want to be important or really spiritual (like Simon) then we open ourselves up to jealousy, comparison, and competition. Sure things that will deny us fullness. By the way, we were made for importance but not by the world’s standards. The kind of importance He has for us is ‘out of this world’ and truly fulfilling!
  • Lord, free us from Hospitality That Gives FullnessSimon withholding. Free us from our selves that we may reach out and be givers. Freely we have received, freely we are free to give. That is fullness!