For anyone who watched the television show 'Saturday Night Live' back in the 80's there was a character played by comedian Dana Carvey called 'church lady'. She made fun of the hypocritical, self righteous people sometimes found in their pews with holier than thou attitudes condemning everyone doing anything bad as wrong. So much for grace and mercy. Those were not in 'church ladies' vocabulary. She was extremely judgmental and she blamed everything on Satan. Now in fact this is where I differed with this character just a bit. As secular shows tend to poke fun at 'religious' people Satan does in fact cause many of our problems today and our divisions and discord. It was just the way this character said 'Could it be ....Satan?!" that struck a chord. Yes church lady, it could in fact be Satan. He is a great deceiver, divider, liar, accuser of the brethren, thief, joy stealer, manipulator and much more. He is no joke! The late comic Flip Wilson's character 'Geraldine' used to use the line "The devil made me do it." Once again funny, but also somewhat true. Although we can not blame everything on the enemy Satan he is not a friend of Jesus or his followers and will do anything he can to divide the body of believers.
But back to church lady for a bit. This attitude of being better than people or thinking all Christians should look a certain way, dress a certain way, not ever drink a beer, never dance, drive a certain car and on the list goes is getting into legalism. When a person comes to a church who is a 'broken' person, they come looking for love from other believers and often times get critical judgmental looks and not loving arms wrapped around them. We are to have grace and mercy not a bunch of rules. The Bible says "we have all sinned and fallen short of God's Glory". (See Romans 3:23). In John 8:7-11 Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first. And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
There is only one judge and it is Jesus. So many of us think we have a right somehow to say what is acceptable or not. Let God handle that. Many churches seem to make up man made rules of the worse sins and shun those who participate in them. Instead of trying to win the lost and fallen to Christ they shut them out as tainted outcasts. Some examples would be unwed mothers, homosexuals, former prisoners,those who are divorced, former child molesters, former thieves, those who have had an abortion to name a few. Seek out of church where grace and mercy are key and not slamming the door on imperfect people. Jesus would never do that. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 says "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Matthew 7:1 says "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Don't just be a church goer because it is the 'American thing' to do but go and reach out to those hurting around you. Churches are not supposed to be little clubs of people with nice little suits on and perfect hair and dresses or little Holy huddles. They are supposed to be havens where sinners can come and be loved and set free not be condemned and made to feel like the scum of the earth. There are not categories of sins where one is worse than the other.Remember gluttony is a sin too and think of all those church potlucks. Hmmmm. Sin is sin. We are all broken and in need of redemption and a saviour. Let Jesus set you free and let him do the judging of others.
PRAYER: Thank you Lord that I am a sinner saved by grace. Put people in my path that need love and kindness shown to them. Help me not shun those who are different than me. Also keep me from forming opinions but help me love all people like you love them. In Jesus Name. Amen.
NOTE: Enjoy this praise and worship song by Casting Crowns.