I’ve had many moments in my life where I’ve been waaaaayyyy too judgmental – particularly about people and their individual walks of faith. The Lord’s been patient with me, but let me tell you that some days the grinding of His sandpaper has really hurt!
When Gary and I decided to start attending church we had to try a Lutheran church first because that’s how I grew up – I knew it had to be the correct type of church! Then when Gary took me to visit a Pentecostal church who practiced the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues (Well If We’re Going To Have Kids…), I was certain that what they were doing was wrong (even though I didn’t even know anything about it).
Later, after we firmly became entrenched in our church home who stood by us through the loss of our kids (Friends … Forever) – and where I finally relinquished my life to Jesus – I just couldn’t believe that people in our area would even think of attending any other church but the one we were going to. They clearly had issues! (No, it didn’t enter my mind back then that the issue could actually be me.)
However, God loves me (just as He loves you), and He has continued teaching me throughout the years that there are many different ways that people can show their love for the Lord. He’s also made it clear that I need to quit judging them just because they might do things differently than I do. If people believe in Jesus and follow His teachings from the true Word of God, then I am not to judge!
There was one church service we attended in the Seattle area a long time ago. The congregation usually was not overly dramatic during the praise and worship time, but occasionally you would see people clapping hands (usually only if prompted).
We arrived that morning to see a group of Native Americans had been invited to come and lead the worship and give testimonies. The brightly-colored garb they wore was beautiful, and to see their faces – they were absolutely glowing with love for their Jesus!!!
Washington state has had a lot of Indian influence (e.g. names of cities, islands, traditions), but unfortunately a lot of the Indians have come on hard times and are struggling with alcoholism and homelessness. Because of that, a large part of the population look down on them as generally a group of drunks, losers and weirdos who worship every spirit but the Creator.
The group of Indians who were involved in worship that morning were “on fire” for the Lord. I found my eyes opened wide as to how I had personally been judging them wrongly, lumping them all into the same category. I was deeply humbled.
There was one Indian from the Apache tribe who came over and kissed little Jeffrey, handing him with tears in his eyes a beautiful hand-made necklace with the cross of Jesus in the center. Melted my heart…
At the end of the service they again led worship, and now began to dance up and down the aisles of the church – arms waiving with adoration for their Lord – speaking a lot of words in their native tongues. Suddenly a lot of people (including me) got up and started dancing along with them as they made their way in and out and up and down the rows.
But then I noticed some of the congregation’s faces: You could see certain “religious” people weren’t happy about what was going on. Their hearts were cold.
I’m reminded of Michel, King David’s wife. The Ark of God was finally returned to Jerusalem, and all the people were celebrating its return. All except Michel:
As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.
2 Samuel 6:16 NIV.
Why did Michal feel this way? David’s actions didn’t fit in her little religious box. She saw her husband as being crude and vulgar – not acting as a king should (2 Samuel 6:20-22).
But the Lord? He saw David as a “man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
God has gifted each of us uniquely and specially, and we must remember that just because not everyone worships or praises God as we do, that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong and we’re right.
We who know Jesus are all one in Him – there is no difference between the races (Galatians 3:28). So when you find yourself criticizing another brother or sister in the Lord, step back and take a good look at yourself. Make sure that you, yourself, are in right-standing with God, and then let God take care of the rest.