Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Critical Spirit

During Sunday School, my pastor discussed about an article he read from a Christian magazine.

The article was about a Christian sister who wrote that the church nowadays are worshipping in public places such as a gym or a community center.  She felt this lost the Holiness of the traditional church settings with the pews and sanctuary.

The class was an open discussion in which I gave my input that it doesn't matter whether we worship in a building or not in a building. The church is the body of Christ and the body of Christ are when believers come together to worship. The author has in mind is a style of worship which she prefers.
As the discussion went on about what's worship, I flipped to Romans 12 where Paul talked about offering up our bodies as a Holy and living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

I had with me a New Living Translation.  I continued reading the next few chapters.  The chapter heading of chapter 14 struck me....The Danger of Criticism.

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.  For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.  Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For the Scriptures say,

"‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bend to me,
and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.

Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

It was at this time I thought about that I might have a critical spirit about this author.  I do not have the answer.  What Paul is referring is 2,000 years ago in a context between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians in Rome, under Roman Empire and in the midst of persecution.  Paul in this part of the letter is ok with whatever a believer eats and the Sabbath issue.  Yet in other letters, he stood very strong in against circumscizing Gentile Christians in order so they fulfill the law (Galatians etc.)

As for me, I see that I still have lots to learn in order to let's build one another up and stop condemning each other.  The irony is that my statement during Sunday School was in a way telling the author, 'hey you should let everyone worship where they want. Give them freedom to do so.'  Yet at the same time I can feel my heart is condemning the way of her worship style.  Such irony.

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