On Specks and Logs

The world hates judgmentalism. The idea that someone would loo kat another person, assess their behavior or lifestyle choices, and enforce some sort of negative relational or social consequence on them absolutely makes our blood boil. And there is no institution in the world more associated with this kind of thing than the church. But what if this all-too-common image of the church wasn’t actually rooted in reality? No, I’m not saying the church hasn’t ever been judgmental in the past (or present). It has. A lot. We’ve worked hard to earn our reputation. But what if that wasn’t how things were supposed to be? What if Jesus hated judgmentalism just as much as – or more than – the world does? What if several of the common negative perceptions of the church fell along about the same lines? This week we kicked off a brand-new teaching series looking at this very question. Join me as we look at what the world thinks, what Jesus said, and what this all means for the church.

On Specks and Logs

Used to be, if you wanted to be someone in this culture, you needed to be a part of a church. It didn’t really matter much which one, you just had to have your membership in their record books and attend just often enough that people knew your name and thought of you as a member. Of course, if you wanted to really achieve something significant in the culture, you had to be more than just a member. You had to be an active member. You needed to be on a key committee or two. Bonus points were definitely given if you were a deacon. You also needed to be fluent in the language of faith. Now, whether or not you actually believed any of this was an entirely separate matter. In fact, it was often better if you didn’t, because then you could keep your eyes on the prize you were seeking without worrying about God coming along and messing things up by calling you in a different direction. Whatever level you wanted to achieve, though, being a part of the church was the entrance gate. Today…not so much. 

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Digging in Deeper: Hebrew 10:26-31

“For if we deliberately go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries. Anyone who disregarded the law of Moses died without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, who has regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who has said, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever had one of those moments when you knew you had lost, and you were just waiting for the defeat to be completed? I’ve had lots of those moments while playing video games over the years. Honestly, most of the time I responded by simply turning the game off. If I’m watching one of my sports teams lose – especially in a big game – I’ll turn off the TV. Why bother sticking around when you know the results aren’t going to be what you had hoped? In life, though, that’s not an option. And with Jesus, grace and redemption are always possible. What the author of Hebrews is talking about here, however, is a situation when a terrible loss becomes unavoidable. Let’s wrestle today with what may be the most disturbing warning of the letter. Hang on tight for this one, and don’t look away until we reach the end. You’ll not want to miss this.

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Digging in Deeper: 1 Peter 4:14-17

Thanks for coming back with me this week. We had a terrific time away and now I’m ready to hit the ground running.

“If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a Chrisitan, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What would you do if you suddenly discovered that your parents are not really your parents? I think we can safely say at the very least that this would be a pretty major shock to your system. Let’s add one more layer to this, though: What if your discovery and shock were shared by your parents? A recent documentary film on Netflix pursues this very question in a true crime story that didn’t even have to be designed to shock and disturb. The story Our Father tells does those two things on its own. Yet the story itself isn’t the thing that most got my attention and sparked my writing this morning. That prize goes to the particular angle the director chose to take with the storytelling. It offers a good reminder of where the culture is when it comes to the church and why getting the life of Christ right is so important for followers of Jesus.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 12:10-12

“‘Haven’t you read this Scripture: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came about from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes?’ They were looking for a way to arrest him but feared the crowd because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. So they left him and went away.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever witnessed a moment when someone finally realized they had nothing left to lose and just went for it? The courage of such a person doesn’t just double. It increases several-fold. When there’s nothing left that can really be done to a person, their willingness to face down any amount of suffering to achieve their aim becomes incredible. Obstacles become meaningless. There’s only one other thing that can give such a boost. When a person is supremely confident in the righteousness of their mission the consequences of its pursuit cease to matter. As the number of Jesus’ days before facing the cross grew shorter He became bolder with His words than He had been before in His ministry. Let’s listen in closely today as He puts the religious leaders in their place.

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 7:3-5

“Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

So, yesterday morning we started talking about judgment. Or rather, we started talking about not judging people. Well, no, that’s not quite right either, is it? Jesus said we shouldn’t judge, but as we thought about it together, we realized that wasn’t really what He was saying at all. And I’ll admit, it was a little tough to follow (including what I had to say!). This morning we’re going to try and clear things up a bit…or at least make them a little less muddy. Let’s talk about sticks in our eyes.

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