“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Last week, we concluded that the Church is the collective of all believers and that we can faithfully, boldly and with great eagerness maintain our prophetic voice in this secular, decadent sin-filled world, lifting Christ up that He may draw all men to Himself, because God has empowered us, so to do. Enjoy the second part of this enlightening article written by Marvin Moore in the publication called ‘THE SIGN OF THE TIMES’.
- There is Sin in the Church
“Every now and then I hear from someone who is deeply perplexed and worried about others in the church who are not living the Christian life as my caller or correspondent thinks they should.
Now I will be the first to admit that there is sin in the church. Our society is painfully aware of the sexual improprieties of too many of its religious leaders. There is embezzlement of church funds by those who have been trusted with safeguarding them. There are pride, politicking, and control through manipulation and anger. There is quarrelling over such profound things as doctrine and over such simple things as which colour to paint the walls.
Worst of all, there is a loss of deep spirituality among Christians today. Many of us attend church once a week, but nobody would recognize our Christianity the other six days. We rarely pick up a Bible or pray nor do we examine our lives on a regular basis to identify and correct the flaws in our characters that are creating misery in our own lives and the lives of those we live with.
There is a time and place to pay attention to these problems. That is what the Old Testament writer; Ezekiel was talking about when he wrote of those who were “grieve(ing) and lament(ing) over all the detestable things” that were being done in Jerusalem. “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it” – Ezekiel 9:4. But this grieving and lamenting should never become a full time vocation for any Christian.
Unfortunately, too often that is what the people who call or write to me have done or at least seem to be doing. I have known people who could hardly utter a word about the church that wasn’t morbid and down-in-the-mouth. It was the essence of their religious experience.
If you see this tendency in yourself, I would like to suggest several things you can do to be sure your criticism of the church is appropriate.
- Pray Before we Criticize
Before we point out sin, we should be sure that we have the right attitude. That is why Paul advised that only those who are truly spiritual should undertake this task. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” – Galatians 6:1. Praying for others before we try to correct the problems they are creating puts us in the right spirit.
- Check Ourselves Before we Criticize
Those best qualified to point out errors in the lives of others are those who are most aware of the error in their own. Let’s ask God to help us see the flaws in our own lives. Ask Him to show us whether our criticism is majoring on minors. And especially ask Him to help us see if our criticism of others is a cover-up for some spiritual pride or insecurity in ourselves.
- Consult Before we Criticize
Find a spiritual leader in the church who is outside our circle of friends – one whose judgment we trust – and explain the matter as we see it to him. This may be our pastor, or it might be an elder or other mature Christian. Often, such people can help us to see matters from a more accurate perspective.
- Look For Positive
Before we utter a word of criticism about others, spend five times as much time looking for all the positive qualities in our church and especially in the lives of those we condemn. This is particularly important if we see in ourselves a tendency to major on sighing and crying over the sins of others.
- Speak to the Guilty First
Ninety-five percent of the criticism in the church would come to an abrupt halt if Christians practiced the biblical principle found inMatthew 18:15-20. If we are truly aware of a flaw in the life of another person, then that person is the first, not the last, who should hear about it. And if we recognize the flaw, then we are responsible for pointing it out, not to others, but to him or her. If we have done everything else I have suggested so far, then perhaps – not certainly, but perhaps – you are the one who should point it out.
I have noticed that those who focus largely in criticism of the spirituality of others or of the church in general tend to be very unhappy people themselves – quite contrary to the joy that Jesus said should characterize our Christian experience as we read inJohn 15:11; 17:13. So it is very likely that the best outcome we will discover from following the suggestions made here is much greater joy in our own lives.”
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