I recently happened across some words from a person involved in spiritual ministry that bothered me to the point that I could not sleep. Quite frankly, it sickened me. This person had gotten fed up with what some would refer to as “sheeple” (those who refuse to think or study for themselves) and felt the need to point out their stupidity. I’m not saying the emotion behind the comments was invalid, as there were some really ignorant comments and questions made by some folks. What I am saying is that as “Christians” (and especially leaders in worship and ministry) we need to be careful of the manner in which we interact with others in these situations. The way in which we approach a perceived lack of understanding in someone else is so very crucial to not becoming a hindrance that is contrary to the very thing we say they believe.
Let me ask you a couple of questions: 1) is it possible to have too much salt in something and 2) is it possible to have a light that is too bright? The obvious answer to both of those questions is a resounding “Yes!” Jesus tells us that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Salt and light are both very valuable things but if there is too much of either one, it can actually be harmful. Having too much salt in a dish will ruin it as quickly as not having any at all. As a matter of fact, having NO salt is actually fixable. Have too much salt requires destruction of the dish and starting over. You can always add salt but you cannot remove it. Then there is the issue of light. If we are surrounded by darkness, light can be a valuable tool. If the power goes out in our homes, we immediately start looking for flashlights, candles, lanterns or any other method through which we can illuminate the dark. Light reveals where darkness hides. It is wonderful and necessary but if it is too bright, it can actually cause harm. The sun is necessary for life, but if you stare at it with the naked eye, it can cause irreversible damage and cause. The same can occur with the arc of a welder’s torch or other various sources of light. Light can cause blindness if it is used inappropriately. So what’s my point?
People of faith today, especially those in leadership positions, seem to be developing a cloaked pride that eats away at the very fabric of what they profess to believe or have been called to do. What I mean by “cloaked pride” is they are condescending, judgmental and even downright rude with others in an attempt to “correct their mistaken point of view” or “share the truth of God’s word with them.” When these “spiritual” people are confronted on this attitude, the response is often some rationalization about Jesus being bold and “calling a spade a spade.” Believe me, I get it…and Jesus WAS bold! But do not confuse boldness with pride.
Jesus was the only perfect man to ever live. Everything He did was done from a heart of love. That doesn’t mean He did not address “stupidity” head‑on, but it means every time He addressed anything at all, He had the absolute best interests of that person or group in mind. His motives were completely pure and never self-serving. Good grief, look how many times He would say things to His own disciples and they wouldn’t “get it” and He would have to keep going at it from different angles until they finally understood what He was trying to say. He never once referred to them as “stupid” or tried to make them feel like He was better than them…not in public or in private. He also never talked down about them to others. Instead, He simply kept doing exactly what He was called to do and did it with patience and long-suffering because He loved them. Unfortunately in today’s world, we have “leaders” who act like they are simply being bold in Christ and “setting the Pharisees of today straight” when THEY, in fact, have become the Pharisees of today. Yet, they continue to cloak their behavior by saying it is “righteous indignation” or they are standing strong on the truth of God’s word! There are better ways to stand strong on the truth of God’s word.
Jesus was not bound by His humanity and there was no risk of Him becoming arrogant or prideful, no matter how many people followed Him. This cannot be said about anyone who is not perfect, and therefore applies to every single human being. As humans, there is ALWAYS the risk of becoming arrogant or prideful. The more people follow us or listen to us, the more power we begin to feel we have. The more they flatter us, the more wonderful we start to think we are. WE start to take credit for things instead of giving God the glory…even if we don’t say it out loud. And when we have power, knowledge and influence, it is easy to start doing things that are in accordance with OUR will or protect OUR interests instead of remaining submissive to the will of our Father. Let me be clear about this: I do not believe most people start out with ulterior motives, but it is a natural progression to end up operating from a place of pride, arrogance and condemnation when we do not continually and truly humble ourselves before our God and remember that no matter what position we hold in a church or in life, we are ALL sinners saved by grace. Every ability or shred of intelligence we have comes from our Father and without Him, we aren’t even smart enough to get out of bed in the morning!
So back to my illustration of too much salt or too much light. When it comes to people of faith being salt and light, the most important thing to remember is that we are the actual salt and light, not the One who MEASURES the salt and light! We are the instruments and God is the one who is in control. He knows the exact amount of salt to use or how bright to make the light. It is up to us to get out of His way and let Him work! We are not skilled enough to know how much is enough so it’s our job to be the light and allow God to choose the wattage. It is up to us to be the salt but let the master chef choose the amount. If we don’t, then we will end up harming the very people we say we are trying to help. When we force our measurements of salt and light upon others, we end up with people who are “over-salted and blinded by light.” When that happens, we do so much damage to our influence that only God can repair it.
It is time to hold up a mirror in front of our faces and see things as they are. Quit trying to disguise pride by calling it boldness. Quit trying to say that your condescension and judgment is holiness…because it isn’t. Stop making it your personal quest to correct the “wrongs” around you. IT IS NOT OUR JOB! It is not our job to condemn or look down on anyone! It is our job to simply learn God’s word, be obedient to His will and then live (not talk) our beliefs in such a way that reflects the nature of the One who created us and leave the judgment up to Him.
We are to love others, and if we act as Jesus truly acted and with His perfectly pure motives, then we will be sure to check ourselves before we speak or act so that we can ensure those words or actions are in accordance with God’s will AND come from a heart of true love and compassion for those around us. John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” And before we say we love anyone, we need to read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 again and find out what love really looks like. We might just be surprised.