You may be saying at this point, “what’s up with her ridiculously long blog titles lately?”, and you’d have a valid question. Sometimes, though, a short and sweet title won’t do. Sure, it may be keyword rich and easy to rank on google, but that’s not really my aim. I’m writing what comes to me, when it comes to me and as it comes to me, and this was next. It’s actually been a few weeks in the making, so it was due time.
So, what do Donald Trump, Lauren Daigle and Pastor Steven Furtick have in common?
First, let’s find out what they don’t have in common
Like it or not, he’s our 45th – and as of writing this, current – president. As a former businessman and host of The Apprentice, he traded in his life of “luxury” and “fame” for a life of stress and ridicule in the White House in 2016.
She’s a billboard-topping contemporary Christian music singer who has been making quite the stir in even the secular music world lately. She’s been featured on Christian music stations like K-Love and Air1, and mainstream TV shows such as Ellen and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Pastor Steven Furtick
Lead Pastor at Elevation Church. His sermons can be heard at multiple campuses throughout the U.S – primarily but not exclusively in N. Carolina, Youtube, Podcast and many other online avenues. His church is considered a Mega Church, and they’ve released multiple Praise and Worship albums.
So, what’s the correlation here?
Let’s be honest, any time anyone is given a platform in the limelight, they will be criticized. It doesn’t matter if their laundry list of dirty deeds are done in the public eye and a mile long, or if they seem to be spotless – people will find or fabricate stories. The validity of said stories is another – well – story.
The reason I selected the 3 sinful humans above – and yes, they’re sinners, we all are – is because they’ve recently been drawing a lot of attention and discussion, and I think it needs to be addressed.
First, though, let’s talk about the fact that we feel the need to pick these people apart. The need to “judge” them.
What is Judgement? Is it OK to judge?
From a Christian perspective, judgement is objectively evaluating someone based upon biblical standards of conduct and morality. Keeping this definition in mind – yes! We as Christians are called to make righteous judgements. Otherwise, how would we discern ourselves between right and wrong? How could we make choices, pick friends and decide on activities if we did not use biblical judgement? Where would we draw the lines?
Imagine pulling up to the mall, Costco, or another large parking lot and there were no lines for parking… What a fiasco that would be! Judgement is an assessment. Righteous judgement allows us to use our biblical “goggles” so to speak, to find out what is good or bad. It’s a necessary tool in the believers arsenal. Here are some verses confirming so:
- “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20
- “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;” Philippians 1:9-10
- “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” John 7:24
Simply put, judging is not condemning.
So, how do we judge without condemning? We remember that the Bible is the standard of judgement. Period.
What is Condemning, then?
Condemning is forming a negative opinion about someone – typically out of self-righteousness – because they don’t measure up to biblical standards. It’s using this aforementioned judgement to more or less beat someone with our bible.
Condemnation is not only unbiblical – it’s detrimental. Ever heard the saying “you’ll catch more flies with honey, than vinegar?” (while vinegar in it’s early stages – brewed at home – can attract quite a few flies, this saying is definitely true for the finished product!) When we condemn others, not only are we dragging them down – we are pushing them away!
What does the bible say? This one’s easy, exemplified and summed up by Jesus in the following two verses:
- “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
- “Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11
In John 8, the well-known Woman Caught in Adultery passage, we can determine – even by the title alone – that the woman was clearly caught in sin. If anyone deserved condemnation, it would be her. If anyone could condemn her, it would be Jesus. But, we see how He handled it. As Christians, we are called to do the same. We should call sin what it is, but do so with love, patience, kindness, and gentleness. We are called to hate the sin, but love the sinner.
Jesus did not condone her sin, but neither did he condemn her. He lovingly told her to go and sin no more.
Go on, where’s this all going?
So, how does this all relate to the three individuals mentioned above you ask?
I’m seeing so many people attacking these three lately, particularly our President; And, it keeps bringing a scripture to mind. Now, if we’re being literal here – only one of them is Preaching the gospel in the literal term of preaching, however, we know that a sermon is more than a Sunday morning blurb. Our lives are our sermons. Every action we take, every word we speak and every choice we make speaks louder than any 90 minute speech we could ever care to stand at a pulpit and deliver. But, more on that in a different post, later on…
Steven Furtick, being a pastor, knows full and well that he will be judged more harshly on the day he meets the Lord, as James 3:1 states: “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.” But, what about the others? What are they preaching? And is it heretical? Are they living out a Christlike example every moment of everyday? Are they using their huge platforms in the spotlight to proclaim the Good News not only in word but in action and deed? Do they have a past riddled with clear and obvious mistakes? Are they worse than us because their failures are lifted up on a pedestal for all to see? Does the illumination that comes from their fame point out their obvious flaws and make their blatant sin impossible to ignore – and point out?
Why do we think that our own past – our own current struggles – are any less damning than those of the aforementioned persons? Why do we feel the need to accuse those who are doing something to advance the gospel of doing so out of hypocrisy or ill-gain?
Here’s the passage that keeps coming to me, and I think it goes without saying that we should put our feet in our mouths about condemning these individuals any further:
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. The former, however, preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can add to the distress of my chains. What does it matter? Just this: that in every way, whether by false motives or true, Christ is preached.“ Philippians 1:15-18 (*emphasis added)
Bam. I mean, how much more relevant and on point could this passage be when it comes to this issue?
I see so many people hating on our President Donald Trump for his past sins, his current (according to the Mainstream Media) failures and his list of faults. So many people trash-talking Lauren Daigle for appearing on Ellen, an openly homosexual talk-show host. A plethora of people accusing Pastor Furtick and Elevation church of financial fraud and heretic preaching. To them all I say: Read Philippians 1:15-18 and go to the Lord about it. “What does it matter?“
What does it matter?
- Christ is being preached (People who have never heard the name of Jesus, the message of the gospel and the Good News of salvation are hearing of it now.)
- Lives are being saved (President Trump has done more for the Pro-life movement in his 3 year term as President than any other presidents combined, his daughter is combating human traffiking and creating new jobs for the American people by the same means)
- Lauren’s musical talents are beautiful and the world – Christians and non-Christians alike – can appreciate her lovely vocals and as a bonus hear the message of the gospel at the same time!
- Pastor Furtick’s sermons are convicting and uplifting. He references the word of God, points to the saving grace of Jesus, and appeals to the younger generation – a hurting and confused group of people who would otherwise not take 60-90 minutes out of their already busy lives to listen to the Good News.
- Elevation’s worship music might be “new” and “trendy” but, again – it appeals to a whole generation of people who may not be reached any other way.
Let us not put our God in a box. He is too big for that. Let’s not underestimate His mighty power of reaching lost souls. God, as we can see in His Holy Scriptures, can use the most unlikely people to do the most amazing and seemingly impossible world changing things. God is God, and we are not. Let us pray for our leaders, love one another like Jesus did, and not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
>>> Photos in this post are used with permission from Wikimedia Commons