Sunday, March 8th, 2015
Outsiders (Part 3)
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
Matthew 7:1-3 (NKJV)
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren... There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
James 4:11-12 (NKJV)
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4 (NASB)*
Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!
Isaiah 65:5 (NASB)
In the days of Jesus, the Man, outsiders were called Gentiles (or 'goyim' in Hebrew). Gentiles referred to all nations and peoples outside of Israel: God's chosen children. But among the Jews were various sects, often opposing one another. They included Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots and Herodians.**
In these days of modern Christianity, outsiders are called non-believers (or heathens). Non-believers refer to all nations and peoples outside of Christians: God's adopted children. But among believers are various denominations, often opposing one another. They number over 40,000, depending on who's counting.
The largest Christian groups are Catholics and Protestants, followed by Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy. Each has divisions, but Protestants, the most. With major branches, mega churches, smaller branches, thriving independents and home worship, the ways and means of following Jesus seem countless.***
But they are not judge-less. Can Christians resist the temptation to judge each other? Many Protestant mainliners scorn differing sects: 'Mormons think Satan and Jesus are brothers... Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in the Trinity... Catholics worship idols... Surely, we are holier than they, if they're holy at all.' ****
Even Bible-believing evangelicals***** (of which I am one) disagree with each other on topics like snakes, tithes, tongues, rapture, healing, deliverance, prosperity and miracles. I have strong opinions, too. But not to the point of scorning a brother, or believing I am holier than he.
I respect Mormons. As a rule, they are strong in family, generosity and morality--more so than many of their mainstream cousins (us). I respect Jehovah's Witnesses. As a rule, they are strong in evangelism, fervor and unity.****** I respect Catholics. I married one. Among them are many devout worshippers.
Do I agree with all of their beliefs and practices? No, I agree with every Word of the Bible. Even so, I don't fully understand Them. Therefore, I define my Christian brethren as those who love God as their Father and Jesus as their Savior. On these fundamentals, we can unite. I defer to God as the Judge of us all.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: You know judging is wrong, and you've seen its results: division. To the world, Christianity looks a family feud.
Your Script, the Bible, is deliberately mysterious. We aren't meant to understand everything, but we are meant to study, believe, love, follow and practice righteousness. His Name is Jesus. He scorned no one, except religious hypocrites.
To Be Continued...
* Romans 14 expands on the observances of certain religious customs (such as holy days, the eating or abstinence of certain kinds of food), in regards to judgment, faith and love.
** Jewish sects during the days of Jesus: http://www.bible.ca/d-jewish-sects-pharisees-sadducees-essenes-zealots.htm; http://aramaicherald.blogspot.com/2010/07/jewish-sects-at-time-of-christ.html; http://faithbibleministriesblog.com/2010/12/12/sects-at-the-time-of-jesus/
*** Wikipedia's attempts to categorize Christian denominations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members
**** Jesus, Brother of Satan: http://mormonvoices.org/1/jesus-brother-of-satan
**** Jehovah's Witnesses: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/knocking/myths.html; http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/believe-in-jesus/; http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/good-news-from-god/who-is-jesus-christ/; http://www.watchman.org/articles/jehovahs-witnesses/jehovahs-witnesses-and-the-wholly-other-holy-spirit/
***** What is an evangelical?: http://www.nae.net/church-and-faith-partners/what-is-an-evangelical
****** Ten Things We Can Learn From Mormons: http://www.mrm.org/10-things
****** Three Advantages Jehovah's Witnesses Have Over Christians: http://lifelinespublishing.com/2012/03/21/three-advantages-jehovahs-witnesses-have-over-christians/
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Outsiders series.