Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So Judgmental


I have to admit, I am usually skeptical when I hear of various celebrities who have been "born again". Alice Cooper, Deon Sanders, Michael Irvin, Stephen Baldwin, even Paris Hilton and Michael Vick supposedly "found Jesus" recently. Good grief.

Yesterday I read an article in a magazine that said Korn's former lead guitarist, Brian Welch, left the band in 2005 because he became a Christian. My initial reaction was- "yeah, right..."

I don't know if Welch or any of the others are genuinely born again, that's besides the point-I do know the Lord convicted me about my attitude yesterday. He used the story of Zacchaeus to jar me from my self-righteousness and make me seek Christ anew.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” - Luke 19:1-10


1. Christ is Sovereign over salvation, I have not contributed a thing to my salvation. Christ’s effectual call to me was no different, in essence, to what happened to Zacchaeus.

2. No one is outside the reach of God’s saving Grace. Who am I to judge who God saves? Did I deserve salvation? I must not grumble against God’s great redemptive work!

3. Repentance will have clear fruit. Genuine salvation includes repentance and a changed life. Part of the change may require restitution- joyful restitution!

4. I must passionately long for our Savior, without worry about what others might think of me.


These realizations lead me to further personal reflections:

- I am again humbled by the absolute sovereignty of God in my salvation. As much as my sinful pride wells up and wants to stake some kind of claim in my salvation, such an account reminds me of Christ’s personal, effectual call to me, a terrible sinner. I was in no way attractive to Jesus, but rather sovereignly chosen to be a tool of God for His glory. More of His glory is displayed when I decrease.

- I am convicted by my pharisaical judgment upon those who I don’t think are worthy of salvation. I remember when Ted Bundy (mass murderer and rapist) made a profession of faith that James Dobson thought was genuine based on their personal interaction. Can God save Ted Bundy? Should He? How about the aforementioned celebrities? Can He really save them? Should He? How dare I think such a thing! Who am I to say who “deserves” salvation? No one “deserves” salvation- especially not me! Praise God, He can even save Ted Bundy, if it is His Will. He can even save me.

- When I repent, do I do so joyfully and with zeal to make right what I have made wrong? Often I find myself like a little child who mutters “sorry”, just to get mom or dad off my back. Instead, it is God’s grace that produces true repentance. I pray for a more penitent spirit that longs for God’s glory in my repentance for sin.

- I want to do whatever it takes to see Jesus- even climb a tree and risk embarrassment or worse. Why do I care what people think? Lord, give me the boldness to do whatever it takes to be close to Jesus and not be so judgmental.

9 comments:

pj said...

Thank you--I needed to hear that.

William Perry Guilkey said...

Great stuff. I do the same thing. I have to remind myself that I alone must stand before God and that He does not grade on a curve. Who am I to begin comparing myself to others? Besides that, there are enough "skeletons in this closet" to start another cemetery! God sovereignly drew me when I wasn't even really looking to change. It started with real fear over my soul's condition and ended up with me running to Christ as my only hope. One of the means that God used for me was a "rock bottom" experience, or actually several "rock bottom experiences" (much like those of Robert Downey Jr., Paris Hilton, Michael Vick etc.) that brought me toward Him; NOT to flee consequences, I had already had many of those but rather to rid my soul of its heavy burden. I believe that He can do it for celebrities too. However, as you said, it is the fruit that shows the change. I often slip but I don't stay down. The overall trend is upward. The "big sins" of the past are fewer and farther between and built in accountability brings me back when I stray (as I did recently on a Saturday night). If God did save them, He will definitely bring them all the way home, despites failures along the way. Here's praying that I will be kept on the path by the Holy Spirit, despite my flesh's attempts to drift or worse, walk away.

rgmann said...

Amen!

Frontier Forest said...

The amazing transformation of Ole’ Zaach was the subject of our November 13th, 2005 “CAPTOR” Bible Study.
Some of the questions I posed to myself: “How can I see good, even in the worst of sinners? How can I learn that all people, no matter how bad they might seem, can be forgiven and receive Christ’s free gift of eternal life? How do I extend grace rather that passing judgment?”
Some of my CAPTOR observations:
* With the help and the forgiveness of a loving Lord, who is in the business of changing lives forever—anyone can change…even Zaacheus, even me!
* The eternal question that every living person has to ask and then will someday have to answer
is…“WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TODAY AS JESUS PASSES YOUR WAY?
* From this CAPTOR Bible study I gleaned 7 crucial spiritual lessons. Issues that will always occur when Jesus passes our way, and we STOP…..COME DOWN, recognize ourselves as sinners and acknowledge Him as Savior! This transformation or “metamorphous” may not occur instantaneously, for many it is a gradual change. But in this story we observe it is possible for instant and complete transformation to occur.
* When the LIVING LORD APPROACHES OUR SINFUL LIVES: (The 7 spiritual lessons)
1. JESUS LOOKS directly at us. His looks are deep---His eyes are penetrating. We must realize that Jesus sees inside our hearts----HE knew us long before we knew HIM.
2. JESUS CALLS US by our very special name. Jesus never judges by the ways of the world. Instead, Jesus sees us for what we can become.
3. We HURRY TO RESPOND to His call. We must never procrastinate the moving of God’s Holy SPIRIT! HIS loving call for our forgiveness and eternal life was is predestined before the founding of time, but we must not be put off!
4. Anytime we welcome His forgiveness, embrace His mercy, are obedient to His calling, GLADNESS ALWAYS OCCURS!
5. By His power, and presence in our lives, we have a constant consuming desire to STOP OUR OLD WAYS. This is much more that just a ‘want to change. ’ This is true repentance! A radical departure of old ways.
6. Embracing His mercy, there is A RADICAL DEPARTURE from our old ways! Look at how Zaacheus immediately responded to the touch from the Masters hands, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will GLADLY give to the poor!”
7. ALLOWING THIS REVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT to grow in my life, I receive His strength and Holy Spirit Power to spread His message to others. Not only was Zaacheus willing to give up half of all of his possessions! But even more than his willingness---- now he completes the metamorphous by making this bold proclamation! Ole sinner Zaach responded to the Lord and confessed for all to hear, “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”

While the religious folks were busy passing judgment on Jesus for reaching out to such a sinner, Ole’ Zaach paid no attention to such criticism. His excitement far exceeded any worries of man’s further judgments.

Kampfgruppe Hoppa said...

Point #3 Hits home with me: "Repentance will have clear fruit...Part of the change may require restitution- joyful restitution!" I've struggled with the idea of those folks who have murdered, then professed faith (usually while on death row), and shortly thereafter, believed they should be spared the consequences of their actions (i.e. death penalty). I've also had a hard time understanding why those Christians such as Dobson, who have supported these born again believers, think that because they are now Christians they should be absolved. Perhaps it's because they believe they could be more valuable now as a believer. However, Christ's righteousness imputed to us does not clear us from our earthly actions or responsibilities to own another. Christ, our source of salvation makes us right with God and in turn with our fellow man, but doesn't clear us from making restitution as needed; and this is not to say that by making restitution we make ourselves right with God...Sola Christus!

AJF said...

KH- You're right. Sin has earthly consequences and they might be severe. I don't think sentences, like the death penalty, should be reversed because someone makes a profession of faith. The earthly sentence must stand.

In the case of Zaacheus, he actually repaid several times over what he actually owed. This reveals a real heart of repentance. For the murder on deaht row who comes to faith, he/she must recognize the justice of their sentence, beg the forgiveness of the family, and do whatever restitution can be done.

By the way, one of the SEVERE flaws of our justice system is a total lack of restitution. Some how there must be the opportunity for restitution.

rgmann said...

By the way, one of the SEVERE flaws of our justice system is a total lack of restitution. Some how there must be the opportunity for restitution.

Tony, while I don’t disagree with your main points, I just wanted to point out that restitution does happen within our justice system. Many inmates are required to make restitution payments every month out of their earnings from institution employment. I’m not saying that the system doesn’t need improvement, because it most certainly does. But restitution payments are nevertheless often required.

Also, I can personally relate to a number of the points that have been brought up here. After 22 years of dealing with inmates on a daily basis, I’ve seen just about everything. There’s no doubt that many (maybe even most) convicts use religion as a means for their own personal benefit (e.g., to mislead staff in an attempt to gain favorable treatment, transfers, parole, etc.). But I’ve also witnessed many conversions to Christ that appear to be completely genuine, and have resulted in a dramatic change. So, while I tend to be more skeptical than most, I also try to keep an open mind. The old Reagan adage -- “Trust, but verify” -- seems to be a good policy to me.

AJF said...

Roger- thanks for that input. I am glad to hear of such a thing, I wasn't aware.

Kampfgruppe Hoppa said...

My Latin is pretty sorry (like the US criminal justice system). I meant 'Solus Christus' For you German speaking folks, it's 'Christ Alleine'