Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Religious Critics

As was the usual case, Jesus spending time with Zaccheus in Luke 19 resulted in his critics judging Him. They felt He was in error by associating with a man known to be a sinner. They made the same criticism when Jesus visited with another tax collector named Levi, who later became Matthew (Luke 5:29-30). These critics were not from the secular realm but rather the religious world. That much really hasn’t changed. When Christians and churches start building bridges to sinners it often results in criticism from those who are religious. That didn’t bother nor distract Jesus. In Luke 19:10 he makes it very clear that His purpose in coming to earth was not to fit inside the spiritual box of those who were religious but rather to seek and to save those who were lost. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising when critics, even the religious ones, make comments like these:

You’re just about numbers! This comment starts with the presupposition that numbers are bad. They’re not. You can find them all throughout the Bible. God even named one of the books of the Bible, “Numbers.” Yes…I am about numbers. Why? Because numbers are important. Because each number represents a person created by God that Christ died for but who is headed toward an eternity in hell. I understand that numbers aren’t everything and that you can’t measure ministry success solely by the statistical report. But the bottom line is that numbers represent people and people matter to God so they need to matter to us. We count people for one reason…because people count!

All you care about is evangelism! To this comment all I can say is that I am guilty as charged. I am more convinced than ever before that evangelism must be the engine that runs the church. No, evangelism is not the end of the process, but listen folks, the rest of the process can’t take place until evangelism is happening and it begins by building bridges to lost people in the community where God has placed us.

Your church is too big! At what point do we say to our community, “So sorry, we are as big as we want to get! We have no more room for people who need Jesus. We have no more love for people who are on their way to hell. We have reached our quota. We’ll put you on a waiting list and as soon as one of our church members expires or leaves, we will give you a call!” I think we have forgotten something. It’s not our church!! It’s Christ’s church and He commanded us to go into all the word and preach the Gospel to all creation. Can your church really become too big?

Your church lacks depth! The thought today is that if a church is growing they must be watering down the message. How untrue! Honestly, I believe we have depth here at Grace. But if you don’t, there is a simple solution. Get off the computer and open your Bible and dig in!! The only person holding you back from digging deeper is you!

Like Jesus we need to build bridges to lost people. As I have said many times before, we must follow our calling, not our critics. We will not one day stand before our critics and give an account but we will one day stand before our God and give an account. Let’s continue to meet people where they are and move them to where God wants them to be!

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