Intercession Not Condemnation by Rocky Fleming

December 15, 2021

“God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.”  Oswald Chambers

I would like to follow up my last blog post about unity in the Body of Christ.  If you have not read it, please do so on our website, for it will lay the foundation for this post.  I’ve discovered that many of our divisions in the Church are driven by criticism and judgment of others based on our own sin of pride.  We compare other people with our perspective as if it is the standard of what is “right,” and when we see someone not measuring up to the standard which we hold as the “right way,” we criticize and find fault.  We do not see our own offense and yes, even sin, when we judge, criticize, condemn and sentence to exclusion the people of our judgement. 

I find it appalling when I hear and see such behavior in the Body of Christ, and I hate it even more when I find myself doing it as well.  But I will say this.  When it happens with me, I feel the grief of the Spirit in me, reminding me that this is not a right course.  It was not always that way.  But through an abiding relationship with Christ, He is able to get my attention more readily and through the process show me a better way, which is where I’m going with this.

As we navigate troubled waters in a society that is opposed to Christian values and the absolutes the Gospel provides us, I find it easy to criticize certain political perspectives and people who promote their anti-view of what I feel led to believe that is right, based on how God’s word leads me.  But they are generally outside the Church and the truth is, we cannot hold them accountable to the values we hold for they do not know the One who leads us and holds us accountable to those values.  However, when I see the same anti-Christian values supported by believers within the Church, I find it hard not to shut out those people who promote them, and to not have disdain for them. 

It is easy to say that these people within the Church are not true believers, and the truth is many are not.  It is easy to put such people in that “non-Christian” category and judge them unfit, and then exclude them like lepers.  Even if this is true, I cannot find peace with that perspective.  But this cannot be true for all of them, for there are many who are ignorant of how the Word leads us, for they have never been discipled.  So, who is at fault with these particular believers?  Would it not be the Church who does not embrace Her sacred responsibility to nurture believers to close proximity with Christ where they will discover the truth and discern the lies that mislead them?  Would that not be my responsibility, or do I find that all I need to do is judge them and exclude them as my Christian duty?   I tell you that if I go down that path, I invite leanness into my soul and I grieve the Spirit.

That is my seesaw battle.  But there is something very important that I must do if God gives me the insight from His Word or my spirit to see wrong in others.  If I want to make a difference in a life and help that person see what they are not seeing, I must do as Jesus did for me, and as He still does now for others.  He wins us to His way of thinking through His love, not criticism, through His welcome, not exclusion, through His forgiveness, not His condemnation.  If anyone has the right to do all those things, He does.  But He does not.  Instead, He holds out a helping hand to help those who will not escape the inevitable judgement that will come at the end of their life.  He wants to turn them.  He does this though His Church, and this is why we need to see a harvest field that needs laborers, rather than a pit of vipers who need to be eradicated.  Do you remember this conversation between Jesus and two of His disciples?

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.”  Luke 9:51-56 (ESV)

Does this question from the disciples ring true for you?  What is Jesus’ answer and His perspective?  He rebukes them.  In my mind He rolls His eyes and in His own way says, “Good grief.  Where is your heart?”  Then He simply goes to another village that will receive Him rather than condemn the one who excluded Him.  Who knows?  When Jesus gave the Great Commission to make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and all the world, that very village may be a Samaritan village that welcomed the Gospel, and it was just a matter of time.  It might have even been James and John who were dispatched to make disciples there?  Who knows?  It kinda works like that sometimes.

What can we learn from this?  We should not cast a wide net over everyone who doesn’t act or see things in the way you and I do, and then condemn and exclude them.  We do not call down fire on them because they refuse to believe as we do, or we will be the ones getting burned.  We simply go to those people who welcome us and allow God to judge the others who do not.  But the welcome mat is better laid by the one who we are concerned about when we approach with love and kindness.  We do our main work in changing a life by intercession with prayer first followed by acts of kindness.  Then, we can lead them to close proximity with Christ, and their hearts and eyes will be opened.  That is the missing work in the Church.  Let us intercede not condemn and really make a difference.