When I published last week’s newsletter entitled, “Will Trump ‘Make America Great Again?’” I thought by using this title as an introduction to the idea that God is in the process of doing just that Himself, more readers would be enticed to open the newsletter. They would be introduced to the idea that God is, right now, establishing the rule of Jesus as “King of kings” on the earth, through His people.
However, just the opposite was true! Readership declined last week. One of my grandson’s remarked, in so many words, “Christian people are tired of the uproar and the squabbling, particularly when the President is such an undignified, unattractive figure with such blatant, obvious sins. It makes them want to forget the whole thing.”
I think that is very insightful. The majority of those on my mailing list are Christian people, many homeschoolers, and we come from a background of evangelical Christianity. We have learned to not take seriously the church’s implied mandate to attack the gates of Hell. Matthew 16:18 tells us that those gates will not prevail against the church. The wording of the verse tells us that the gates are obviously protecting something that Hell possesses against an attacking church. Those gates in America today surround the education system, the judiciary, the arts, the civil government, and even the liberal church—any sphere of activity in our culture in which God and His word are denied access. How did we get from the founding of Harvard University, begun for the express purpose of training men for the ministry (its original motto – “Truth for Christ and the Church”) to where it is today—controlled by the enemy of our souls, Satan himself?
The advent of Darwinism and Marxism in the 19th century is a major factor. They are both “religions” that presented concepts that eliminated the necessity of a creator God and His word and introduced intellectual and philosophical arguments with which the church did not think it could compete. Rather than battle the enemies of Christ in the arena of ideas in the marketplace, the church withdrew from the culture.
That withdrawal was finalized by the Scopes monkey trial in 1925. The picture of Christianity presented to the general public as a religion for uneducated, low class, religious zealots, painted beautifully by Clarence Darrow, John Scopes’ defense attorney, convinced the church that it was intellectually in over its head. The retreat from the culture to wait behind the stained glass windows of the church for Jesus to return to rescue us from this wicked culture was complete. Christianity had become an internal religion of the heart only, ignoring the historical, biblical pattern of engaging the culture and attacking the gates of Hell by bringing Jesus Christ and His rule into every area of life.
As we awaken to the fullness of the gospel of the unlimited grace of God that did away with sin at the cross (Colossians 2:14), we are now free from constantly looking “inside” at ourselves, worrying about how we personally are doing with God, and we can now look “outside” at the culture war that is raging all around us. Rather than retreat to inner pietism in fear and disgust, we are beginning to volunteer to join the battle, fulfilling our mandate to rule over the earth! As we do so, it is crucial to understand a biblical truth I have recently recognized in a new light. This is a truth that the evangelical church does not emphasize, possibly because it is a truth that is found in the non-Christian’s most beloved Bible verse, the only one many of them know.
The verse is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Everyone is very familiar with these words of Jesus, both Christians and non-Christians alike, and the vast majority of them all apply those words of Jesus in the same way: “You must not judge me.” Seldom is the application applied as intended: “I must not judge you.”
Unless you are under my authority in the kingdom of God—in my family, in my business, on my sports team, i.e., some recognized institution or structure in which I have responsibility and thus authority over you in some way—I have nothing to say to you. We are both answering to our own authority whoever it may be. I can leave you totally to God. He’s got you, and furthermore, He can handle it!
Paul’s teaching on this couldn’t be more clear: “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” (Romans 14:4).
Since I succumbed, in Adam, to Satan’s temptation in the Garden to want to be righteous like God and therefore be everybody else’s judge, this is not how I roll! I am not only into judging everyone’s actions but their motives as well. I am an inveterate line-drawer, dividing everyone into categories of good and evil, those who are Christians from those who are non-Christians, those who “see the gospel of grace” from those who are legalists, those who are doing fine from those who are screwing up, etc. If I spend five minutes with anyone I find I have already judged them and placed them in either a positive or negative category. If I don’t respond to them or don’t agree with them, I immediately draw a line, consigning them to the negative side of the line, and, of course, myself always to the positive side.
Amazingly, when my judgment is negative, it is never some sin in which I see myself trapped as well. How often do I accuse others of what I am doing myself but I don’t have a clue I am doing so? Or I excuse myself with, “Oh, we all do that”—anything to excuse my sin so I don’t have to see myself as a real, live, present-day, right-this-minute sinner.
But the fact remains. The incontrovertible evidence stares me in the face everyday—if I have eyes to see it. I am a wicked sinner in whom God is at work, just as He is in the hearts of all those I judge so regularly. So, at the conclusion of this discussion of judging in Romans, Paul summarizes the attitude he says I am to have and that He will give me: “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God“ (Romans 15:7). How does Christ receive us, at all times, in all situations, in the very center of glorious victories or wicked, unmentionable failures? With a relentless, unwavering love that is completely unchangeable no matter my conduct.
Can you believe it? In your heart, probably not, but it’s true. It is a love that is unreasonable, not conditioned on any characteristics or responses of the loved one. And that is the love God gives us for those whom we judge! Next week I am going to tell you of a love like that, not in the Bible, but in the most impossible of situations.