Earlier today I had the distinct displeasure of reading comments from both believers and non-believers (re: vocal atheists) about Rachel Held Evans. Where I saw this doesn’t matter as I’m fairly certain it was just one of countless places where I, or anyone else, can see nearly the exact same thing.
My big takeaways from suffering these comments are:
1. The atheists seemed much more empathetic and respectful than most of the Christians, many of whom were quick to point out that Rachel Held Evans is in Hell now.
The first part is unsurprising. Matthew 12:30 clearly states that “whoever is not with me is against me” so, of course, atheists are going to have more empathy and demonstrate more respect toward Rachel Held Evans than believers will. An enemy of my enemy is my friend, after all. Although Rachel Held Evans was kind, congenial, funny, tolerant…her theology clearly indicated that there was enmity between her and God. That may be a hard pill to swallow for people who liked and agreed with her but that is the ugly reality. Make no mistake, she was an enemy of God just as much so as the most devout atheist.
All the being said, though, Christians stating she is in Hell right now with any kind of authority are both cruel and wrongheaded when none of us can know. She may indeed be in Hell. Or, she may have received true forgiveness minutes before she died just like one of the criminals who was executed alongside Jesus did.
2. Atheists seemed to delight in the fact that Christians were “eating their own” so to speak.
This is also unsurprising because atheists understand that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Christians, sadly, seem to have no idea of this concept at all. How do we seem to have no concept, you may be wondering? Because we demonstrate it, daily, by our words.
3. Matthew 7:1 was misused every single time I saw it.
Agin, unsurprising because it was used almost exclusively by non-believers who are unable to rightly handle the Word of Truth. Here is what it really means.
Jesus’ command not to judge others could be the most widely quoted of His sayings, even though it is almost invariably quoted in complete disregard of its context. Here is Jesus’ statement: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Many people use this verse in an attempt to silence their critics, interpreting Jesus’ meaning as “You don’t have the right to tell me I’m wrong.” Taken in isolation, Jesus’ command “Do not judge” does indeed seem to preclude all negative assessments. However, there is much more to the passage than those three words.
The Bible’s command that we not judge others does not mean we cannot show discernment. Immediately after Jesus says, “Do not judge,” He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matthew 7:6). A little later in the same sermon, He says, “Watch out for false prophets. . . . By their fruit you will recognize them” (verses 15–16). How are we to discern who are the “dogs” and “pigs” and “false prophets” unless we have the ability to make a judgment call on doctrines and deeds? Jesus is giving us permission to tell right from wrong.
Why I posted this, really, is to emplore Christians, especially those who are quick to ham-handedly condemn others for their own edification, everywhere to check themselves.
Granted they might not be a known heretic but, nonetheless, their eternity could very well be just as bleak as if they were.
Most of what passes for American Christianity these days is based on clichés that we read on the back of Christian tee shirts. Most of our Christianity comes from songwriters and not the Bible. Most of what we believe about our faith is dictated to us through our culture and not by the Bible. The Bible never teaches that a person can be a genuine Christian and live in continuous carnality and wickedness and sin all the days of their life. Instead, the Bible teaches that the genuine Christian has been given a new nature. The genuine Christian has a Father who loves them and disciplines them and watches over them and cares for them.
My heart is breaking because you know this as well as I do, let’s not be hypocrites about it. Let’s not hide it. There are so many. You know them. You might be one of them, or you at least know that they’re in your church. They come to your small group. They do all the things other Christians do, but in their heart, they’re as wicked as wicked can be. There is no difference between them and the world. There is no light in them except a light they can turn on on Sunday morning or Wednesday night for an hour or so then turn off.
Everything that the world does, they do, and they think it’s appropriate; it’s okay, because they are carnal Christians or because they struggle with sin. My friend, that’s not Christianity, it’s a lie.
If you are genuinely a born-again Christian, a child of God, you will walk in the way of righteousness as a style of life. And if you step off that path of righteousness, the Father will come for you. He will discipline you. He will put you back on that path. But if you profess to have gone through the narrow gate, but yet you live in the broad way, just like all the other people who are carnal and wicked, the Bible wants you to know that you should be terribly, terribly afraid because you know not God.
What about you? Look at the way you walk. Look at the way you talk. Look at the passions of your heart. Is Jesus in there somewhere? Or is He just some accessory that you add on to your life? Is He just something that you do on Wednesday or Sunday? Is He something that you give a mental assent to? Is He an accessory or is He the very center of your life?
And what is the fruit that you’re bearing? Do you look like the world? Act like the world? Do you have and experience the same joys that the world experiences? Can you love sin and relish it? Can you love rebellion and relish it? Then you know not God.
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven will enter.”
Do you know what your profession of faith in Jesus Christ is worth? Absolutely nothing. Yes. Did you read that passage? Study it. Not everyone who comes to me and says, Lord, Lord . . . not everyone who professes, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven. There are many people who are going to profess, “Lord, Lord,” but they are not going to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Are you one of them?