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Weeping the Tears of Jesus and Paul

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

If you will take the time to look at the social networks, secular and religious you will receive Phd level information about the motivations of people and the complexity of their personalities. One common trait that leaps off the computer screen from all of these sites is the mindset of some to act as judge and jury (one gets the impression they would gleefully act as executioner if allowed) of the attitudes and actions of the others who comment. Scripture tells us it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31, when He is displeased with you is the context) and it seems equally bad to fall into the written hands to these other members.

It is frightening, really, to read the self-righteous arrogance and anger of some folks and their willingness to demean and excoriate others. We can say that such highly critical people are also often angry people. I have, for example, known many angry people on different sides of the political spectrum and still am myself on some things. Mark Twain said to write on some issues he wanted a pen warmed up in hell. At times I heartily agree. Most of the electorate are somewhere in-between the right and the left as we know. Those humorless souls that inhabit the extremes of each side are a rough crowd. The common denominator between these extremes it seems is their anger. Personally I see some anger is truly that of principle. Principled anger sees a moral absolute violated and responds with the desire for justice. A society that seeks to remove any fixed moral compass is not a pluralistic society. It is morally, ethically spineless and in the final analysis unjust. However, most of the anger is arrogance or the willful inability to see another perspective, the unwillingness to see the world with shades of grey.

This is my mea-culpa. To hedge out the critical spirit I need the grace of God because I can be arrogant and critical. There. You have it. But I have repented of my times of self-righteousness and repented yet again this day. Through the grace of God that hammers my life with the divine chisel I see the sin of it for what it is. Self-righteous, arrogant criticalness should be captured in a bottle marked with skull and crossbones. It is lethal spiritual plutonium, a weapon of terrible personal, societal and church destruction.

Now we turn toward the Church…

Having experienced first-hand two terrible church splits and a denominational fracture I can tell you that the spiritual plutonium is spilled invariably. Church splits and denominational rifts are brutal, bloody affairs with unimaginable collateral damage, usually the young. One group stays and one side leaves. In a very real sense it is a corporate divorce. The emotions are analogous to a marriage where one partner abandons the other; or in some cases as one drives out the other.

I wish to take the liberty to address both sides as there is terrible danger spiritually for both sides.

To those who stay, the abandoned, the spurned partner, I know you come from a place of terrible hurt. You feel demeaned, marginalized and unloved. Perhaps you even wonder, “What did I do?” Healing resides in the hands of the Father and he will not abandon or spurn you if you are His. It is His sure promise that he will never leave you nor forsake you. All, ALL of His children are precious in His sight and if you name Christ as Lord you are His child, forever. Allow me to caution: if you entertain bitterness over those who left, it is a poison and it is brewed in the pit of hell by the enemy of your soul.

To those who have leave. The flashpoint on a denomination level boils down most often to that of either Truth, power or some combination. If you have left over principle you too face grave danger to your witness and your soul. Satan will grab that bucket of spiritual plutonium and seek to poison you as well. Where you will be attacked is over the temptation to be arrogant over a lack of Biblical understanding or discernment of those who stay. If the defining issue is one of absolute truth you may very well be angry at the theological intransigent. This is not to say anger is always inappropriate. If a subgroup rejects, for example, the need for the atoning work of Jesus you should have anger. Anger over egregious theology that puts the souls of others at risk is not intolerance but rather a love that truly values souls.

We cannot stand idly by and watch another falsify the coordinates to Heaven on other’s spiritual GPS unit. For example: that Jesus saves and calls all people everywhere to repent and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord is a fixed point of truth on the spiritual globe. You dare not miss and fly south of it. Getting off course spiritually is deadly just as getting off-course in aviation doomed Amelia Earhart. Let’s call it what it truly is: when you mislead others about the spiritual truth needed for salvation: it is spiritual murder with far, far worse consequence than any physical murder ever perpetrated.

That being said there is also a temptation to smugness; we rest against the bosom of Jesus secure in our own safety. God forgive us for smugness; it is the sign of a wretched, self-satisfied and un-loving heart. It is a heart of stone! My heart has been stone too and I repent in sackcloth and ashes. When we look into the mirror of the face of God it shows us for what we truly are; it breaks our hearts and it breaks us! When Job, at the end of the book that bares his name, saw the face of God and understood God’s character, wisdom and might in comparison to his own, it broke Job anew. He was broken, truly broken and truly in a proper place of respect and awe before almighty God.

Are we properly broken before God as Job was? Brokenness is the proper cure for arrogance, pride and smugness.

Each morning when we awake we should first look at the face of God that we might truly see ourselves and our own spiritual/soul poverty before looking at anyone else. Look it up in any translation or version of the Bible–Galatians 5:22, 23–right now, please. Look at the words used to describe, to mark out the characteristics of the Holy Spirit; words such as anger, criticalness, arrogance? Those words just listed are not there in the text. The fruit is love, gentleness, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. If we act as our older brother Jesus does, this will be our behavior.

You may be the ones that stayed or you may be the ones that left, in the parlance of these modern smart phones, “There is an app for that”. An app given by Jesus and Paul. The apostle Paul was tasked with keeping his spiritual toddlers out of the toxic chemicals under the sink. There seemed to be that certain crowd that gleefully unhooked the cabinet so the children could have at it. These peoples were apostate teachers, tares, wolves in sheep clothing and enemies of the cross. Paul wept for them. He wept for their spiritual hollowness and willful destructiveness. He wept about their delusion with faith issues or their cynical manipulation of others for money and power. Paul wept for traitors to the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:17-19) as any parent weeps for a prodigal or one for a wayward lover.

At the end of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we see that when Jesus came to Jerusalem the week of his death he saw Jerusalem’s spiritual pride, arrogance and smugness. Jesus wept over her rejection of God. Did the hardness and willful sin of the Pharisees anger Jesus? Yes the self-righteous hard-heartedness of the Pharisees made Jesus angry. He cleaned out the Pharisee sponsored money-thieves in the Court of the Gentiles. Jesus got just plain white-hot mad; but he wept nonetheless. If we do not weep for those who err we have not the mind of Christ towards the body. We are called to gently, respectfully and prayerfully instruct others who disagree. Our primary job towards those brothers and sisters who are off on the wrong road is to love them and pray for them, to pray for them with tears. Are we better and wiser than Paul? Are we wiser than Jesus!?

Don’t you see it, it matters not where you line-up on the field, you should pray and weep for those across from you with deepest humility and grace. This is Jesus’ church, we are his family. Shed humble tears, pray and be faithful.


Copyright © 2011 Brian Bailey, Author