The Critics from Hell. Experiencing our Heavenly Father, Part 4

The Critics from Hell. Experiencing our Heavenly Father, Part 4

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"Anyone who sets himself up as 'religious' by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air." (James 1:26 MSG)

Imagine going to a store. You are wearing jeans. "Excuse-me," you ask. "Could you help me?"

The store clerk looks at you suspiciously: "Why should I help you, ma'am?"

"Excuse me?"

"Look at the way you are dressed. This is not how a woman should dress. You are not a man! This is disgusting! I will not serve you. Come back when you are better dressed."

How would you react? Would you ever go back to that store?

How would you react if that happened in church?

Unfortunately, this did happen, and to my own wife. She, conservatively dressed in a new pair of dress pants and a feminine, dressy blouse, was accosted in our own home church by a pillar of the church: "How can you say you are saved? Why, no one would even be able to tell you are a Christian at all by looking at you!"

This nearly brought my wife to tears, for the last thing she ever wishes to do is to give a false message about her first love, our Lord and Saviour. "No?" Then, in humble submission, and fully expecting that the pillar of the church would reveal some hidden sin: "Would you be able to tell me why not?"

"Because you wear a wedding ring, you don't wear a hat, AND you are dressed like a man!"

This sad incident truly opened our eyes to the church we called "home". Needless to say, after trying unsuccessfully to help the church see they needed to love more and criticize less, we joined a different church…

Unfortunately, in some churches, criticism is the norm. If you are not dressed by their pre-described standards, or if you are late for church, or if you do not stand up at the right time or make the right gestures, you will be criticized.

This isn't to say that these churches never show love. Unfortunately, however, when this love is interspersed with the criticism, it goes completely unnoticed; and those who may need that love the most are criticized and ignored. After all, they wouldn't want anyone who didn't represent their pre-described form of Christianity to dominate their congregation, now would they?

Some of these legalistic churches even change their bibles so that it will conform to their doctrines. Such churches are often characterized by one unwritten doctrine: "If you don't follow the church, you will not be saved."

I have one question for such churches: Did Jesus ever condemn people because of doctrines?

I can already give you the answer to this question: Jesus' message was one of genuine love. Jesus said: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35, NIV)

We are here to love genuinely, not to criticize or hate.

And what about you? Do you follow Jesus? Or, like the Pharisees of old, do you follow your church's doctrines?

Remember, doctrine without love is no better than garbage: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer." (1 Timothy 1:3, NIV)

Also remember that criticism is a false doctrine, for there is no love in it.

Interestingly enough, these critical churches don't know the Holy Spirit, and without the Holy Spirit, there is no love. He is our guide, and without Him we are lost: "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:14, NIV)

Who will you follow? Critics? Or Jesus Christ? Doctrines? Or genuine love?

I have no choice but to warn about certain denominations. Remember, not everyone follows the love of our Heavenly Father; but without love, we are nothing:

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor 13: 1-3 NIV).

Who will we chose: Love or condemnation?



Rob Chaffart

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