I hope you can now see why Christ wanted his church characterized by love rather than condemnation. (John 13:35, 1 John 4:7-13) Yet, this brings up the obvious question, why isn’t this taught on more than it is in the present day church. Simple observation seems to indicate that people become quite defensive when we talk down to them. A defensive person is not really listening to what you say at all, just how disrespectfully you say it. Much like terrorism, people become so reactive to the horrible means used to communicate the message, that the intended message gets lost.
What we the church need to remember is that true righteousness comes from the heart. So you can only choose to pursue it for yourself, nobody can choose it for you, and you can't choose it for anybody else. Yet, critical people try to choose for others all the time. That is like trying to whitewash someone else's tomb. (Matt 23:27-28) If Jesus thinks it's foolish to do that to yourself, how much more foolish is it to try to whitewash someone else, who hasn't willfully chosen it for themselves, who's hearts are not really in it.
Since true righteousness comes from the heart, the all too common act of trying to criticize someone into submission is completely and utterly pointless. I liken it to pointing a gun at someone, and demanding that they say I love you, and actually believing that their solicited words are sincere. Oh sure they will say it, but how can you honestly expect someone to believe such expressions are true when the person demanding said words is treating that person so horribly. How self diluted do you have to be to do that? The thing is, critical legalists dilute themselves like that all the time with their forced submission; all because of a lack of Christ like love.
Since this is all true, all we can really do is inspire people. Sure you can create the illusion of results with various forms of forced submission. However, if you want it to be real, for it to come from the heart, if you want someone to choose to follow Christ of their own freewill, which I hope you do, all you can do is inspire them to. You do that by living it yourself, not by lectures that don't go much deeper than, because the Bible says so. You must give them a reason to believe that the Bible has authority by showing them what it's done for you, rather than point the proverbial gun of legalism at their head. Which has inspired more rebellion than conversion.
When Christians do the opposite of love, the opposite of what Christ would do, or follow the critical example of the world, we do the work for those who would choose to defame all things Christian. Those who were probably the victim of critical Christians in the first place. I think it would do the church well to take a long hard look at itself, and it’s practices. Specifically how criticism may be adversely acting against our mission. The reality is, we fail at righteousness the moment we choose to be prideful about it. (Psalm 59:12 & 69:26-28)
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. - 1 Peter 2:12
|Whitewashing somebody else's tomb|