Judge Not? On Christian Arrogance

Judge_Not_Arrogance

SERIES INTRO:

Christians are often accused of being pompous, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant.  Often, Christians find their own Scripture being quoted back to them. The most commonly heard verse is:

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

From those leveling these accusations at Christians, there is truth in what they say, but there is also error.

In this series, I will be exploring these accusations, and analyzing humility, tolerance, and related ideas from a biblical worldview, ending the series by analyzing the much-used (and over-used) passage of Matthew 7:1.

In the previous articles, we concluded:

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth in love.

Now, let’s talk about Christian (and human) jerkiness…

 

Why are Christians Arrogant?

Considering all we’ve explored so far in the “Judge Not?” series, it appears there are certainly justifiable grounds for calling out Christians as hypocrites when they’re boastful, sinfully prideful, arrogant, unloving, or pompous. (Also, keep in mind, they’re commanded to be truthful, and if someone doesn’t like the truth they’re sharing, it doesn’t immediately mean they’re all or any of the above negative adjectives.)

And there are certainly Christians who deserve to be called out. As I stated before: They should know better. The times Jesus shows anger in the Gospels is primarily towards the corrupt religious leaders for exactly that reason: They should know better.

Always keep that in mind.

On the other hand, do all Christians deserve to be stereotyped as such?

I’m going to propose the answer is “no” for four simple reasons:

 

(1) Fakes Trees & Bad Fruit

Just because someone calls him- or herself a Christian doesn’t mean that person is truly a Christian. I can call myself a goose; it doesn’t make me one. I can call myself a Democrat, but if I voted Republican every election, am I really a Democrat? And being in a church doesn’t make me any more of a Christian than being in a school makes me a straight-A student — or even a student at all.

What I am not saying it to start accusing Christians who exhibit some poor behavior as not being a true Christian, because no one is perfect and Christians are still sinners. But I am saying that the writers of the Bible clearly teach that a tree is known by its fruit. If there is no fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), one has to wonder if that person truly understands and accepts the good news of Jesus Christ.

After all, Jesus asks plainly in Luke 6:46,

 

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

 

John writes in 1 John 2:4:

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”

 

And Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23 should cause all of us to pause and consider our lives:

 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

 

So, Jesus confirms there are people who call themselves Christians that really are not Christians, and Scripture does teach us that actions speak louder than words.

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(2) All Stereotyping is Unfair

I figured out pretty early in life that stereotyping any group of people is illogical. In fact, most people would say it’s downright wrong. So, then, how is it acceptable to stereotype Christians?

I come from an atheistic/agnostic worldview and a mindset that did stereotype Christians. But in the past 9 years since I’ve started following Christ, I’ve seen that Christians come in all styles and models, just like we find in any other large group of image-bearers. Further, it’s been my personal experience that Christians don’t live up to the typical negative stereotypes of Christians at all.  Yes, there are certainly jerky Christians out there, but this has not been the vast majority of my personal experience.

(Perhaps part of the reason is because I live in a part of the country where being an evangelical Christian is not a cultural or political norm. I find those who profess the Christian faith in the largely secular north, east coast are true followers of Jesus.)

I also know most of the assumptions about Christians I had in my head when I was atheist/agnostic were primarily based on the portrayal of Christians on TV and movies. It has been my experience that Christians are usually portrayed in TV shows and movies as “bad guys” of some sort, whether crazy or all-out evil. Likewise, in the media, the only Christians I ever hear about are the hate-filled Westboro (so-called) Baptist (so-called) Church or child-molesting priests.

 

(3) All people are Jerks

Moreover, Christians by no means have a monopoly on being boastful, arrogant, unloving, or pompous jerks. These things aren’t a Christian problem; they’re a human problem. In fact, this is the whole point of the good news of Jesus: we’re all imperfect, sinful jerks, so only a perfectly good and loving God can help us.

Again, in the 9 years since I’ve become a Christian, the Christians I’ve met are the most loving, open-minded, generous, and compassionate people I’ve ever known. On the other hand, when I was heavily involved in the underground punk scene, a scene full of self-proclaimed non-conformists and “free-thinkers,” I encountered some of the most self-righteously judgmental and hostile people I’ve ever known.

As Mark Twain said, “Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.” Being a jerk isn’t a Christian problem. It’s a human problem.

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(4) Christians are Still Going to be Jerks, for the Bible Tells Us So

Likewise, the Bible confirms that even true Christians are still going to be jerks, even after being saved by Christ.

Let me explain what I mean.

True repentance means a turning away from sin and a turning towards God.  Someone is not a “good” person and, thus, goes to heaven for being “good.” This is not what the writers of the Bible teach, nor is this the Gospel of Christ. Sinners, changed by the Holy Spirit, are saved through accepting the free gift of salvation through Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Once they repent of their sins, they start working towards Jesus’ perfect example. But perfection will not be reached in this lifetime.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and this includes saved Christians.

A person doesn’t become “good” and then becomes saved. God’s forgiveness can’t be earned, and it’s deserved by no one. Godly behavior is not the cause of forgiveness; godly behavior is the result of forgiveness. Because of the love God showed us, Christians work to follow the perfect model of Jesus Christ.

Yet the Christian is still imperfect. Christians are still going to mess up, lose their cool, be rude, be unreasonable, or be outright sinful at times.

It was eye-opening to me when I first read the Bible for myself and realized how flawed the great “heroes” of the faith were: Abraham, Noah, Moses, Solomon, Paul. King David committed adultery, and when he couldn’t cover up the woman’s pregnancy, he sent her husband to the front lines of war to be killed. The Apostle Peter, Jesus’ most prominent disciple, had great flaws; he was impulsive and he denied knowing Jesus three times when challenged. The New Testament even tells us about a time when Paul had beef with Peter because Peter was treating the Jewish Christians better than the Gentile Christians! (Galatians 2:11-14)

But God can use all of us flawed people to do his work. What is important is a Christian’s response to these “slip ups.” When we sin, do we repent and ask for forgiveness from both God and others we offended? Do we work to improve and make any necessary reparations?

Anyhow, my main point here is though Christians are saved by God’s mercy and goodness, Christians are still imperfect, so they deserve the same grace and “second-chances” that anyone else does. No biblical writer ever taught that becoming a Christian makes anyone a Teflon saint.

So, let’s add our 4th biblical truth…

CONCEPT #1: All people are image-bearers of God and have eternal worth.

CONCEPT #2: No Christian has earned his or her salvation, so no Christian has a reason to be pompous or arrogant.

CONCEPT #3: All Christians must always speak truth with love.

CONCEPT #4: Like everyone, Christians are imperfect.

NEXT: #5 – On Being Intolerant & Judgmental

 Judge_Not_Intolerance

GOD FROM THE MACHINE has published it’s first book! Searching the Bible for Mother God is for educating and evangelizing those in the growing “Mother God cult.” Visit our page here.

**Read PART 1 of “Judge Not? Human Worth” here.**

**Read PART 2 of “Judge Not? Christian Humility” here.**

**Read PART 3 of “Judge Not? Truth in Love” here.**

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