It Matters To Me How Other Christians Live
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.
1 Corinthians 5:12
This week I didn’t like my crazy busy schedule but I had fun with people. I laughed and conversed, taught and learned from people all around the world who differed in shape and size, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual orientation and physical ability. I enjoyed every single person.
Laurie loves people.
I have been bothered lately by harsh, scathing remarks made about people who do not know Christ yet. I would argue that such talk is not just unfair, but wrong.
The verse above says we are not to judge those outside the church. Ever notice that? Here it is again.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 1 Corinthians 5:12
I am not to judge people who do not yet know Christ. I am only commanded to love them. And I do. By that I mean that I ask God to love people through me according to the power of His Spirit that lives in me. When I face an “enemy,” I truly fight to obey God instead of my natural inclinations.
Anyone in our lives who does not yet know Christ did not determine the place they were born, did not select their parents and did not choose the way they were raised. With no access to power outside of themselves it only stands to reason that people become a natural by-product of their upbringing.
I wonder why people struggle with that thinking.
So when I hear people evaluating another person’s life through the lens of their own life, it sounds arrogant to me, quite honestly. What sounds most arrogant is when a Christian is scathingly judging the life of a person who does not yet know Christ.
Human beings have no power apart from God to transform themselves or the world around them. By that I mean we cannot dictate a particular effect from our actions or thoughts. I can’t make a person love me, or even obey me. I can’t make my car start today or control whether or not I make it to work on time because I cannot dictate the traffic patterns in my city. I cannot make a person respect me or agree with me. In other words no person is born with the power to produce a predetermined change.
In addition, I am not certain anyone has the power to overcome our human nature in any sort of long-term manner. We can change habits and see victory in our behavior, yes. People can fight to keep angry words from flying out of their mouths, but I am not certain they can stop them from being spoken in their minds. True transformation occurs when the entire person is set free. That sort of change cannot occur in our own strength.
We were all born in that state of powerlessness, every one of us. (Colossians 2:13)
By some miracle, some of us were told about the good news of Jesus Christ. We had no control over that either. (Romans 10:14) For those of us that received that message and trusted Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit now lives in us…the Spirit of God! (Romans 8:9).
It is only then that any of us Christians gained access to the supernatural power necessary to overcome what is broken within ourselves (Galatians 5:16). Only then did we gain access to power over the circumstances and people around us in the form of prayer. I can pray for my family, friends, reputation…anything at all…and my words do not bounce off the ceiling.
So why would we ever expect people who do not yet know Christ to look and act like someone who does? It is illogical.
On the flip side, I am to be highly concerned about the lifestyles of other Christians. Look at the above verse again: Are you not to judge those inside?
As a child of God, I am an ambassador for Christ and so is every other Christian. We are therefore Christ’s ambassador, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
- As a unit, we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:16).
- As members of the same team, Christians around the globe are to fiercely protect the reputation of Jesus Christ by living lives worthy of our shared title as ambassador.
- We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9)
The world is watching.
Therefore, God asks us to examine the lives of each other and call each other to higher ground.
We are to use the Bible with each other as a challenging measure of the quality of lives each of us is to be leading. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
According to 1 Peter 1:14-15, as obedient children, we are not to conform to the evil desires we had when we lived in ignorance. But just as he who called us is holy, so we are to be holy in all we do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
I certainly get upset about all the injustices in the world and am rightfully concerned about all such matters.
But I believe it is biblical to be even more concerned about lack of holiness in the church.
After all, we are ambassadors. We have access to the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the reputation of the God of the universe in our collective hands.
Let’s not expect people who don’t know Christ to look like Him. And let’s not allow Christians to live any way they wish and tarnish the reputation of our perfect, amazing Savior.
Let’s be brave and gently but firmly teach, rebuke, correct and train each other in righteousness.
The world is watching and the reputation of Jesus is at stake.
Last Sunday our family attended our daughters’ last career conference game on home turf and celebrated senior day. We have done soccer together since 2000-2001. The cleats will soon be retiring.
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