Note: If you’re not interested in articles about religion and doctrine, this one really ain’t for you.
I’m so fed up with seeing commentary from “progressive” Christians posing as social conservatives, taking pot shots at — publicly condemning — actually conservative Christian ministries for mere differences in style & strategy. They exacerbate polarisation and petty partisanship in what should be the world’s most successful unity movement!
These are sometimes even held up and lauded as Christian leaders! Small wonder some Christians behave so similarly online, manipulating Scripture to justify their sectarian nastiness toward other prominent Christians and Christian ministries, despite the targets of their scorn so obviously bearing much fruit for the Kingdom of God.
There is nothing in common with the Spirit of Messiah, the believers’ Advocate, in such back-biting, gossiping immaturity.
The contemporary of Jesus who I see such critics sharing more commonalities with is Judas Iscariot. Judas was a virtue-signalling “social justice” poser. He demanded someone else sacrificially give to the poor while publicly finger-pointing and criticising their sacrifice for Jesus. All the while he was deceiving himself and everyone else about how deeply interested he was only in himself. He was counted as one of Jesus’ closest followers publicly, but was infamously faithless in the end.
“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
Christians who’ve publicly pointed their fingers at ACL, Hillsong or other tall poppies and said something to the effect of, “Why waste so much money on that issue when you should be worrying about something more socially acceptable,” should be shocked to find themselves seriously compared to the disciple who betrayed Christ. Take a moment to take stock if that’s you.
The similarities are unmistakable.
Firstly, it’s none of your business how other people feel lead of God to serve Him if there’s no illegal, immoral, unethical or unscriptural behaviour. You preferring things be done differently doesn’t fit the bill. You just worry about the assignment God gave you. Condemning ministries is not a ministry.
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Secondly, you’d better be 100% confident there’d be no beam discovered in your own eye if the same standard you used to “help” someone get the speck out of theirs would be used on you.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Trust me, I haven’t seen anyone that wasn’t steeped in guilt of that which they were having a crack at ACL for. I could give many examples, but refuse to indulge in the same ‘name & shame’ behaviour they do toward fellow Christians.
Jesus’ warnings against ‘friendly fire’ couldn’t have been clearer. The rules of engagement are if they’re not worried about you don’t worry about them. Just don’t. Leave them alone, don’t stop them doing what they’re doing. You do you.
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
I’ve never seen ACL opine on any other Christian ministry in Australia unless they were heretical or blasphemously contradicting Scripture and mainstream orthodoxy. Even then they stick to discussing ideas, not individuals. Whatever faults they may have, this whiney insecurity isn’t one of them.
The Apostle Paul observed, “that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry,” and, “out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble.” His response had the maturity of style clearly lacking in those gleefully tearing their robes in open displays of their piety. Even though his criticisms were 100% genuine and true, he ignored them, and instead rejoiced they were at least focused on serving Christ.
“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”
Forget mere style and strategy differences, even when another believer is sinning the right thing to do is confront them privately, and if unrepentant in front of the church. Not the global Church: the local church at the most. Never the marketplace, the ancient equivalent of the internet.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”
It is about relationships and community, together — not stones of condemnation thrown from a distance. In his first letter to the Church in Corinth, Paul exhorted the believers to never, ever, ever, air their dirty laundry in public.
“If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?”
He rebuked them for patently lacking the wisdom of discretion and instead attacking each other in front of unbelievers, calling it “utter failure”, or in another translation, “complete defeat”.
Contrast that shameful display, still sadly continuing if not increasing in today’s Church, with what Jesus wanted for His Bride.
“A new command I give you: 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.”
His famous prayer for us was:
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”
So are we helping or hindering the answering of His prayer with public sniping at each other?
Be part of the solution.
As the single largest Australian Christian marketplace ministry with more financial members than both major political parties combined, exponentially more social engagement than the obviously jealous other individuals (self-identified by their public striving against ACL), and more physical and financial support from mainstream Christendom than perhaps the rest of us all combined — there is also no bigger target for cheap shots from “brothers” than the Australian Christian Lobby.
It seems the battle really is spiritual, after all.
I am inspired by the most recent hypocritical vitriol aimed at them to increase my support for them. ACL does speak for me. Church And State Ministries, now part of The Good Sauce, has long been a monthly financial partner of ACL’s subsidiary organisation, the Human Rights Law Alliance. Today we doubled our support with the same monthly commitment to ACL’s general support campaign.
Can I please ask you to pray about how much you should give too? And above all, let’s examine our social media habits and ask God for grace to remove public, petty criticism of named fellow Christians.
The obvious exceptions
Jesus was brutal with Peter – in private, only in front of the other disciples. Paul was also critical of poor old Pete – but again, only in front of the other leaders, not in the marketplace.
When Jesus did let loose with unbridled, withering criticism in public, it was at those who remorselessly piled oppression, injustice and gross misrepresentations of God’s Kingdom on the general public. Worse, many of Christ’s targets did so while pretending to be morally superior, like so many heathen woketivists today, hence the label “hypocrite”. Jesus took aim at those people who recklessly legislated, and those who sought to lead public opinion about how the world should be, according to their own vain, human agendas.
But when a humble Pharisee came to Him sincerely seeking to understand God’s Kingdom, Jesus generously answered His questions, still without pulling any punches (John 3). No leader is automatically due respect, though they are due our prayers.
There is obviously a time and place and deserving targets of public condemnation, both bad ideas and bad individuals.
Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]
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