Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is a writer and speaker and loves to help people find their God-given calling and encourage people to walk with Jesus into the unique adventure he has for each person. His website is here.
Today, I like to again welcome guest blogger, Travis Barnes to my site. He recently wrote this article about being judgemental.
Giants of Judgement
Do you drink tea? There are many different kinds.
According to Roy Morgan Research, almost 10 million Australians drink tea at least once a week. What’s the most popular kind of tea? Black tea by a mile.
According to Canstar Blue Research, 42 per cent of tea drinkers choose Black tea as their number one preference. This was followed by English Breakfast (30 per cent), Green Tea (23 per cent), Earl (18 per cent), Chai (10 per cent), and fruit infusions at 9 per cent.
It was a different story among younger Australians aged 18-29 with Green Tea the clear winner (35 per cent) followed by Chai (22 per cent), Earl Gray (20 per cent), and Fruit Infusions (15 per cent). It would appear older Australians are sticking with the tried and tested while the younger generations are more adventurous with their tea.
There are many different varieties of tea
You’ll probably like some and not others but they’re all tea even if they’re not your cup of tea.
Christians are united by the love and saving grace of Jesus but the body of Christ is made of unique individuals; we’re not all the same.
In a local church, some people love long expository sermons; these people would love to listen to an hour-long sermon on the second coming of Christ. Others would be fidgeting in their seats praying for the second coming because long sermons are not their thing.
Some believers are highly expressive in their worship; raising their hands in adoration, kneeling in reverence, clapping in celebration and there are others who also love Jesus very genuinely but they’re not so expressive.
Some people are prayer warriors, some are drawn to Bible study, others have a heart for pastoral care, some are activists who need to be out in the community. Some are practical hands-on types who come into their own at a working bee, some are great at hospitality and some don’t even drink coffee!
Is the person who loves to serve the morning tea any less committed to Christ than the person who organizes the half-night of prayer?
Is it right for the believer who is openly expressive in worship to presume that another believer is unmoved in worship simply because they don’t move?
God has made us with different personalities and preferences. Is it right to judge another believer simply because their preferences aren’t your cup of tea?
Beyond the local Church, there are also differences between Church denominations
Some denominations have been around for centuries and others have emerged more recently. Some denominations will have an upbeat worship style with lots of noise and expression. Some churches will have longer sermons and a more academic approach and others will be activistic communities with a focus on being a light in their local communities. Some will be warm at welcoming and having a strong sense of community. A healthy church will incorporate all these aspects but it’s likely that a church community will be stronger in some areas and have room to grow in others.
Would it be right for a church with longer sermons to presume a church with upbeat worship is being run purely on emotion? Should a church with upbeat worship consider another church to be dead if they don’t share their worship style? It’s easy to be judgemental of other Christians and other churches, especially when you don’t know them. The more you get to know Christians from other churches the more you understand it’s not so easy to stereotype them. Christian judgement goes into overdrive when it comes to famous preachers who are usually labelled as heretics by people who have never done anything more than google them. Sadly God’s people occasionally drift into becoming giants of judgement rather than giants of God’s grace.
How can God’s people be less judgemental? Some helpful tips.
1. Serve interdenominationally
If you have the opportunity to be involved in a ministry with the different churches in your town, take it.
As you serve alongside your brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom who attend a different denomination you’ll learn much and experience the blessings of Christian community. Occasionally you might find yourself in disagreement and that becomes a fantastic opportunity to have a cup of tea and listen to one another.
2. Read widely
Don’t just read the denominational favourites that people in your church read, be brave and read books from those outside your denomination.
Try the same with Christian speakers and don’t just listen, looking for the faults but look for the good things they say. If you find 80 per cent of the message helpful and 20 per cent unhelpful, praise God for what was helpful.
Here’s the message
If your growth as a believer has led you to become more judgmental of other believers and other churches, something went wrong along the way. Believers should be best at pointing people to Jesus not at pointing out why the church down the road has it wrong.
Let’s not be giants of judgment. Let’s extend grace to believers who might not be your cup of tea.