Being a child of God and a follower of Christ for 30 years now, I have learned that more often than not our faith is misplaced. Since my conversion I have always been one who followed closely to pastors, giving my loyalty to them and adhering to their teachings. I had always thought of myself as a sort of Joshua who stood at the foot of the mountain while Moses was receiving the commandments of God. I was driven to trust them believing they would never do harm to the people and in doing so I lacked a dependence upon God. I had discernment, but ignoring the warnings God’s Spirit spoke within me so many times has cost me pain and suffering on more occasions that I want to count. It has been a long journey.
This is a politically correct time in America. We don’t want to offend someone whose beliefs may differ from ours. The mindset of our society is tolerance, excepting anyone or anything contrary to one’s belief or practice. This concept has been adopted by the modern church as the Church has fallen prey to the modernistic, non-judgmental mindset of our present age. If you are not tolerant of immoral behavior, of false doctrine, and because of Biblical conviction you speak out, your labeled with all sorts of criticism.
One such criticism thrown at you is “Judge not (Matthew 7:1). This is one of the most often and miss quoted verses in the bible. Those who love to hurl this verse at you are themselves guilty of the very verse the invoke. Jesus does say “Judge not lest you be judged,” but the type of judgment He is referring to is hypocritical judgment. Christians are not to judge each other with reference to the practice of morally neutral issues (Romans 14:3-4), for each individual believer is responsible to God (Romans 14:12). We are to judge, so long as it is within the safety of Biblical parameters (Matt. 7:6, 15-16; Matthew 18:15-18; John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5; 2). When it comes to matters of morality, theology and doctrine we are given absolute liberty and authority in the Word of God to judge!
Another criticism you are labeled with is “you’re causing division.” Fact is, it is false doctrine which causes division in the church. Paul states in Romans 16:17; “Now I urge you brethren, mark those who cause divisions and hindrances contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ, but of their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” It’s not those who preach truth that cause division but those who teach heresy that is the basis of division. Ministers of the Gospel were put in place in the church “for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). The purpose is “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; THAT we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:`3-14). Good healthy doctrine promotes unity and maturity while those who trick you with their deceitful plotting will “blow” and “reel” you with all manner of ungodly doctrine, stunting your growth and hindering your relationship with Jesus Christ and His church. Justin Peters states that “there is no such thing as true unity at all cost, any perceived sense of unity that a church may have, if that unity comes at the expense of the truth of the gospel then it’s an illusion, it’s a facade and a false sense of unity.” (Justin Peters Ministries “A Call For Discernment)
Still another classic criticism is “your an accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Now I hate to burst their bubble but…Satan is the only one equated as the accuser of the brethren in Scripture. His very name means “to be an opponent,” the accuser, adversary, the one who resists, obstructs, and hinders whatever is good. To point out error is a far cry from obstructing and hindering the work of God. The very reason one points out error is because he or she loves the church and wants to spare God’s people the oppression that comes from error. And again, those who cite Revelation 12:10 are themselves guilty of the verse they invoke on you. Are they not accusing you? Now there are many more criticisms people will throw at you like, “cast the first stone,” “first take the beam out of your own eye,” “touch not the lords anointed,” and on and on it goes. To discern is to have conflict, it’s unavoidable, but most today have been programmed buy the church to just be tolerant. It becomes a knee jerk reaction, that most will respond with when their belief system is threatened or challenged. And that my friend is misplaced faith.
The biggest reason there are Benny Hinn’s, Bill Johnson’s, Randy Clarks and the like, is because of misplaced faith. We put too much emphasis on ministers and their ministries today. More often than not, people in the church live up to the expectations and standards of the Pastor rather than God’s. And as for me, I will no long follow blindly, nor will in invest inerrant faith upon men and women of God. Many misunderstand me when I make a commit like this and always respond with, “Well, Paul said be followers of me as I am of Christ.” Ok, let’s look at it! “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” 1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV. It should be understood that Paul placed a condition on himself as a prerequisite for others to follow or “imitate” him. The clause “as I also imitate Christ” is restrictive and conditional. Secondly, no verse stands alone, it must be understood in light of its context. When we look at the verses which precede and follow this verse we see where Paul tells the Corinthians “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God vs. 31,” Give no offence, either to the Jews, or to the Greeks or to the Church of God vs. 32,” and in verse 33 Paul made it clear that he did not “seek his own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” Anything that is not of Christ should not be followed. However, Paul was displaying the same spirit in his ministry as Christ who was the only one who perfectly exemplified love for God and others. He was careful to do all to the Glory of God and he sought the profit of salvation for others. This then shows his character, and every minister should be judged by his or her character. A careful examination of their character should be compared with the Word of God, Christ himself said “you will know them by their fruit.” Paul does serve as an example to be followed, and if your under such a man then God bless you. The two characteristics which should be found in every church leader is, do they glorify God in everything they do, and by that I mean, are they submitted to Jesus Christ and His Word? The second is, do they seek salvation for others, do they have a passion to present the Gospel to people that they will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Or, are they seeking their own profit as we see today with TV evangelist and those in the Word of Faith movement? Let me finish with this, as far as offence is concerned, I have discovered that those you find who are always offended with one thing or another, it’s usually because of Spiritual immaturity. I have learned that when you raise your level confidence in Christ, when you look to him as your sufficiency, it no longer matters what people do or say, offence falls by the wayside. I learned this from a preacher who once said, “Don’t let sin against you produce sin in you.” If you do, it is misplaced faith. Our faith is to be in Jesus Christ and him alone, men will fail us as we will fail them.