As Christians We Must Stop Being So Critical

Opportunities In A Mega Church

Most of us have standards that we believe everyone should meet if they are going to be a Christian. Who gives us the right to judge?  Yet too often we see Christians living in ways that non-Christians call us hypocrites.   I recently wrote on mega churches.  Large churches are dealing with people that many smaller churches would find difficult to handle.  We believe it is o.k. to not be o.k. and we mean it.  We then say: we don’t want you to stay that way.

When you have thousands of conversions many find it difficult to immediately start living as Christ asked that we live.  We encourage these new Christians to take courses that we offer to help them realize what being a Christian really means.  We assist them in finding small groups that also urge them to study their Bibles and live as Christ requires.  What do you do with those that don’t change as rapidly as we would like?  Do we excommunicate them and if so after how long?

We keep recommending that they get into recovery programs.  We have one of the largest in the nation.   It takes time to work with these, often first time Christians and many smaller churches do not have the staff or the patience to deal with them.  Let me share some of the problems of the mega churches that make traditional Christians think we have become too liberal.

James 4:1 – 3 – “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.”  Message   (James is writing to Christians.)

There were numerous disputes going on in the early churches as described in Acts and it has never stopped over the last 2000 years.  Church people were competing against each other to teach and were suing each other to materially improve themselves.  Those who were wealthy were getting all of the attention and the poor were shunned aside.  They disagreed and argued over Scripture.  They were spreading rumors and gossip and speaking evil against each other and judging one another.  Wars were going on in their hearts.  They were bitter and envious which caused continual division in the church.  You go back and read early church history and you might think it was about some of today’s churches.

Remember reading when Aaron and Miriam complained and were envious of Moses’ authority and God turned Miriam into a leaper?  Or when James and John wanted to sit at the right hand of Jesus and rule over the others?  This is nothing but pride and self-centeredness.  People lust for things they do not have causing many Christians to break all of the commandments.

It doesn’t take long to learn that selfish people find it extremely difficult to find true joy and happiness.  Most will never really live an enjoyable life. They find it hard to get along with other people, especially their mate. They have unrealistic expectations and continually complain.  They might even pray that God will help them win the lottery or strike it big.  Living in Las Vegas we see many Christians addicted to gambling.  It touches ministers and lay people alike.  When confronted with their example they find it difficult to accept corrective criticism and jump to defend their actions.  Being a church board member in a number of churches I have had to help deal with some of these situations in the church.

Selfish Christians tell God what to do and how to do it.  They get angry when He doesn’t answer their prayer the way He is supposed to.  It seems they become frustrated and take it out on God’s people.

James 4:4 – 6 – “You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover.’ And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that ‘God goes against the willfully proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.’”

Can’t sin be a form of rebellion against God?  It is evident that the world’s ways are anti-Christ and anti-God.  We must be careful that we do not become contented in the world’s ways and use the world’s tactics to get ahead.  Do we do things to get the world’s approval?  Many Christians in the church continue to struggle with pride. It is Satan’s greatest weapon.  God wants us to depend on His grace and the devil wants us to depend on ourselves.

Even long-time Christians find their carnal nature fights against the Holy Spirit and if it were not for the Holy Spirit the flesh would win.  Many Christians are not even aware of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  It takes time to understand and especially recognize when the Spirit is guiding them.  It takes faith to build up a trust factor.  After considerable time many Christians continue to struggle on their own ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Once they learn to surrender and submit, the greater help they will have from the Holy Spirit.  Each person seems to respond differently.  Some never change how they live and continue as they did prior to their conversion.  What do we do with them?  Our mission is not to give up on them.

As a store manager, Las Vegas was my eighth transfer.  I have been a member of twelve churches and on six boards.  It was nice at times to be in a small church where everyone had been a Christian most of their lives.  However, there was very little growth.  It was rare to see someone converted.  They lived very legalistic lives and had little tolerance for worldly living. Many in the early Acts’ churches believed to become a Christian they first had to become a Jew and live by Jewish law.  Some of our churches thought you had to live on probation, as a Christian, before you became one of them.

James, the Apostle Paul and the others had to deal with people coming from pagan religions. The mega churches confront similar people with very worldly backgrounds.  Keep in mind that Christ gives different visions and missions to churches.  If you belong to a church with no problems and everyone loves everyone else, praise the Lord and be thankful.  But are you spreading the gospel and changing people’s lives?  If not, you may not want to criticize churches whose main thrust is evangelizing.

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