“Dysfunction Junction” – Has No Unction!

beijingtibetGod is magnificently redemptive. None of us would have any hope if that were not the case. Yet we must not confuse His redemption for His approval. Many people abiding in or gathered in dysfunction, is not the kingdom Jesus died for. Our redemption includes the healing/reconfiguration of Adamic brokenness, not the normalization of it “under grace.”

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Homospirituality

MP900227797The issue of homosexuality is a hot topic these days and stirs a wide spectrum of passion. There is no shortage of indignant outrage on the topic from within organized, conservative, evangelical, Christian, religion. I wrote this blog over two years ago, but thought in the light of current events, a revised reissue would be timely.

The essence of homosexuality is the desire for love, relationship, and sexual intimacy with someone sexually identical to one’s self, without the hard work of learning to love someone very different than one’s self, in very profound ways, 🙂 and without the pain, discomfort, and  inconvenience of the logical fruit of heterosexual intimacy: children.

Jesus made it clear that before we attempt to extract a splinter from someone else’s eye, we need to extract the log in our own. Western Evangelicalism has a very large log: homospirituality.

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The Supremes Were Right: “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

supIn the natural as well as the kingdom of God, opposites often attract, and opposites often fuss with each other! Theorists (seers/visionaries/dreamers/conceptualists) often fuss with practical implementers (“doers”/teachers/administrators) and vice versa! The “normal” flow of logic is the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding to what then ought to be lived practically. It is unlikely we will live what we do not understand.

Implementers can accuse theorists of prattling on forever about ideals, but never actually doing anything to realize those ideals—endless, hot-air, philosophizing. Theorists can criticize implementers as being: shallow, “not deep,” ambitious, carnal, or driven to achieve something in one’s own strength and drive—doing a “God-thing,” without God-sanction, energizing, and timing, simply because it seems logical and “right” to do it.

Well, as in all things, we need each other to be complete. Implementers provoke theorists to action, and theorists make sure implementers are motivated correctly. It is not enough to have pure water in the river (theorists), it needs to be moving (implementers)! Sometimes when a fresh understanding of some facet of kingdom life is brought to us by the Holy Spirit, we can either talk about it forever and do nothing, or rush off to make what we “see” happen. Both extremes are a mistake.

Whatever understanding we may have come to, whatever topic—relationship, church, family, justice, poverty, teaching, preaching, worship, gifts, etc., love is, and must be the energizing power  and ultimate measure of all that we believe and do. Not sentimental, philosophic love but real, costly, inconvenient, sacrificial otherness that genuinely considers others more highly than ourselves (Php. 2:3).

We know we have passed from death to life, not by the brilliance of our “revelations,” nor the “depth of our teachings,” nor our “mighty anointing,” nor by how many miracles we do, nor by our passion for social justice nor how “awesome” our praise and worship is, but by our love for the brotherhood–the family of God, one another (1 John 3:14). If there was ever a matter so easy to agree with rhetorically, and so difficult to live practically, love is it, and love cannot be rushed.

The failure to live what we preach is perhaps the biggest stench the ekklesia leaves in the nostrils of an unbelieving world. Whatever we see, whatever we understand, whatever we try to “do,” whatever we preach, truth-wise, must be saturated in love, bathed in love, and love can’t be hurried, and it doesn’t come cheap.

In a metaphorical way, Dianna Ross and the Supremes had it right in 1966 when they sang:

You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don’t come easy . . .

You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait
You got to trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes

 Copyright 1966 Holland-Dozier-Holland

It is not that implementation isn’t critical. It is. However, merely getting a hold of a God-thing and rushing off to implementation, misses important elements: the motivating power and the in-working of the cross. Whatever the thing we think we see or understand in the kingdom might be, it must become life in us before it becomes life in others, and that only happens one way: by death and resurrection life (John 12:24). I believe it was Watchman Nee who said: “Light in us must become life in us, before it can become light in others.” That happens when the Spirit takes our “insights” and “revelations” into death, and brings them back again in resurrection.

A God-thing implemented merely by vision, strategy, planning, purpose, passion, organization, and administration will inevitably end-up just bringing forth “successful” death. The same God-thing implemented through the in-wrought cross in a human heart, in love, resurrection life, service, and empowerment of others will result in liberating, reproducing, life.  If we miss this, we will inevitably initiate another program, perhaps based on better understanding than the last one, perhaps done in the most sincerity with passion and zeal for God and His ways, perhaps with “better results” than the last one, but it will be just another program none-the-less—”Babylon Lite.”

In the natural every species has a gestation period required for life. It can’t be hurried. If it is hurried it will be born dead or deformed. It is the same spiritually. Even the “revelation” of love itself as the beginning and end of all things, cannot be rushed to application.  Love requires gestation. Love requires incubation in an invisible place where only the one carrying the seed knows that there is life  in the womb. The day will come when everyone will know there is a pregnancy, but in the early goings . . . only Momma knows for sure.

When John Lennon sang, “All you need is love,” he was right. Sure, his understanding of it didn’t align with Christ’s kingdom, but I can’t help but believe that this lyric reflects something so deep in the human psyche, that even an unbeliever knows that love is the cement of perfection, the yearning of every human heart. John’s diagnosis was right. It seems unlikely he ever found the Cure.

Let’s avoid the pitfall of either extreme. Let’s effectively co-labor with the Christ in one another to the full realization of what His body is meant to be, for the benefit of God’s heart for humanity, remembering what Momma said:  . . .  you can’t hurry love.

 ________________________________

Copyright 2013,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.
 
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Today’s Unpardonable Sin

Even a Christ-hating, atheist, mocking, scoffing, secularist, media personality will know one scripture reference, and leverage it frequently: Judge not, that you be not judged.[1] The unpardonable sin of today’s secular culture is judgmentalism.

Unfortunately, there has been significant seepage from the secular culture into the minds and practices of leaders in the Lord’s church. It has reached the point where “judge not” means: turn off all faculties of discernment between good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. Any evaluation of a doctrine, practice, or behavior is considered being unduly “critical” or “judgmental”—allegedly something Christians are not supposed to do.

It has reached the point among us that to have any regard for character, holiness, purity, or death/life is considered a failure to understand the grace of God. I am a new covenant, radical grace of God guy in every way: theologically, practically, spiritually, and subjectively. In fact, I am often criticized for being just that. However, the grace that is really God’s grace is both empowering and instructive. Someone who is experiencing God’s grace in the power of the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be empowered to stop ungodliness.[2] They will not habitually practice sin absent of conviction.[3]

As a mentor of leaders around the world, I see (on a regular, and widespread basis) the excusing of the rankest, foulest, clearest sin possible in the body of Christ by the wave of the magic wand of being judgmental or religious for bringing the topic up. I have seen fornication, adultery, the love of money, drunkenness, witchcraft, sedition, slander, rebellion, idolatry, and other practices, all tolerated—by supposedly mature Christian leaders—because to deal with these practices is considered being judgmental by those who hold local church authority in their hands.

As is so commonly done from pulpit, street corner, and TV studio, the Matthew passage is quoted out of context, and in disregard for other “red-letter” admonitions from the Lord. If proof-texting is all we need, how can the same holy lips that forbid judging in Matthew’s gospel, turn around in John’s gospel and tell His hearers to engage in judgment, only doing so righteously, not according to appearances?[4]

Of course, propping up the “judge not” cultural virtue with a biblical proof-text cannot withstand close biblical scrutiny. For example:

Jesus was “judgmental” when He:

  • Insulted people – Matthew 12:34 et. al.[5]
  • Called them names – John 8:44
  • Threatened them – Luke 13:3
  • Whipped them – John 2:15

Paul was judgmental when he:

  • Threatened people with curses – 1 Cor. 16:22[6]; Gal. 1:8-9
  • Confronted their hypocrisy, judging their behavior – Gal 2:13-14
  • Committed them to divine discipline – 1 Tim. 1:20; 1 Cor. 5:5

The Jesus we have created in our cultural, conservative, “Christian” religion is an idolatrous fantasy, a pure figment of religiously sentimental minds.  However, that Jesus is a necessity to keep the church growing and the finances flowing.  Often an unsanctified or over-expressed pastoral or evangelistic gift defined by cultural values of success and what it means to be a “good pastor” facilitates the “don’t judge” spirit. The lack of the expression of other equally valuable gifts and graces results in a very warped and utterly unbiblical expression of the pastoral grace.

What is the difference between prohibited judgments encouraged judgments?

The context of Matthew 7 is hypocrisy, not evaluation between good and evil. Jesus is dealing with those who want to “speak from behind the mask,” those who present themselves as something other than what they are, and measure and condemn others for the same sins they secretly engage in word, thought, or deed. Discernment is not being prohibited in Matthew 7.

Assuming we can agree that being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ is the divine purpose for all humanity,[7] we cannot go wrong being like Jesus. The judgment we are to engage is the kind the Messiah engaged in. He did not judge by what He saw with the eyes and ears. He looked beyond the surface. He confronted concentrations of power in all forms: religious, political, institutional, financial, spiritual, and based His judgments on behalf of the poor.[8]

The judgments we are prohibited from engaging in are those that are inconsistent with His Word and Spirit. We are forbidden from condemnation (of ourselves and others!): the issuance of a final decree on a matter, a judicial “sentence” of finality. There is only One who is qualified to make those kinds of judgments, because only He knows the hearts of humanity fully. We cannot know the depth, breadth, and scope of His redemption concerning others. We see through a window, darkly.

If all judgment/discernment is prohibited by the Lord, then the general discernment belonging to all believers (as sharing in the Spirit of Christ) and the specific gift of discerning of spirits, are both unnecessary—there is nothing to judge. I suggest that many of the problems experienced in individual lives, relationships, and in local faith communities result from precisely this failure to exercise the most basic elements of discernment: a failure to righteously judge.[9]

Not all judgments are negative! In our culture the word “judgment” has such a negative connotation, it is hard for us to understand that it is possible to make positive judgments! Acquitted! Son not slave! Free! Forgiven! These, and many others, are all positive judgments!

We are to make evaluative judgments from the new creation nature, based on the Word and Spirit of God. Our evaluations are to be full of grace and truth: truthfully gracious and graciously truthful,[10] and severe when necessary[11] . . . remembering our frames are but dust. We must always remember the mire we have been rescued from, and extend the same long-suffering graciousness to others. The measure with which we measure others, we will be measured by. Our judgment is in hope, and in mercy triumphing, not rejoicing in another’s weakness or failure.

Never the less, judge (discern/evaluate) we must . . . starting with our own hearts and the beams in our own eyes.


[1] Matthew 7:1

[2] Titus 2:11-15

[3] 1 John 3:9

[4] John 7:24

[5] Semitic people believed that snakes reproduced asexually, without a father. To call someone the “children of snakes,” was the same in our culture as calling someone a bastard: fatherless. There was no greater insult possible toward a Jewish person. Their entire identity and “place in God” depended on their tracing fatherhood to Abraham and ultimately, God through Adam.

[6] And pronounce a grace-based blessing in the same verse!

[7] 2 Cor. 3:18;  2 Cor. 4:11

[8] Isaiah 11:3-4.

[9] Gift expression is healthy only in a fully expressive community of diverse gifts. All gift expressions are divinely designed to be in divine tension and counterbalance one with another. Truly, only the outworking of the inwrought cross and a very present ministry of the Holy Spirit can keep the whole body functioning beautifully.

[10] John 1:17

[11] Romans 11:22

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

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