Playing God

Bible College - in Colorado - New York Times

Charismatic, socially conservative, bible college.

I've continued to stay in contact with them by being on their mailing lists, etc.

Last year Supreme court legalized gay marriage, very unhappy.

Sent this thing to their mailing list

Basically they wanted everyone to give money to they could take out an ad in the new york times saying how horrible they thought the decision was.

You're free to think whatever you want on those types of issues. Obviously people do. I'm not sure that taking out a protest ad in NYT is the smartest move, but either way.

Spark your interest?!!

Whether or not the church supports or opposes gay marriage, doesn't that instantly spark your interest?

People who hear about things like reaching out to people, helping people, it kinda feels like 'bla bla bla'.

But as soon people start talking about something that is an 'us vs them', people get to excited and passionate.

When people talk about what Christians are FOR, it just feels dull.

But then there's times when a discussion comes up on what we as Christian's oppose. - People will lose their minds in their own passion. Be it about definition of marriage stuff, or bathroom rights.

They seem SUPER concerned about our culture becoming more secular.

But they don't seem to care a ton about - caring for the poor, the alien (which is what the bible calls an immigrant), the sick.

Never gonna talk about gluttony.

What is it about us that we hear the heart of God for the world and it doesn't almost nothing, and we hear something to fight about and we start foaming at the mouth.

It's weird - 'Us vs Them' has a very weird sense of energy.

Vs - Let's love the unlovely - boring.


Progressive Christians

NOW - Let me pick on progressive Christians one more time.

So interesting, I feel like they've avoided some common traps - making the issues more important than the people.

Embraced some of the more trendy Christian issues. - The environment, which Jesus clearly teaches us to care for.

Same spirit of 'us vs them' but it's just pointed at a different group of people.

They can look at some huge mega church somewhere with a parking lot filled with SUV's, and just roll their eyes. 'Can you believe them?'

They're the exact opposite of those other people. They're not 'closed minded, they're not judgmental.

Unless you drive an SUV.


What if those two attitudes are exactly the same?

On one side - fiery evangelical mindset.

Other - progressive, open, hippie mindset.

Are both harboring a deep sense of superiority?

What if they're both eating the same fruit from the same tree?


Genesis 3

In the beginning, Adam and Eve are there in the good world God has created.

There's TONS that they don't know. About how the world works, what's outside the garden, they're naive in a lot of ways.

Genesis 3:1-7

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, (Genesis 3:2)

but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:3)

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. (Genesis 3:4)

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)

Weird conversation - the snake has with Eve.

"I know you guys are friends and all, but the only reason he doesn't want you to eat that fruit is because he knows you'll be wise just like he is wise."

Plants the seed of : Suspicion & Mistrust. One Little Lie

Have you ever noticed - You can hear one bad thing about a person, maybe you've known and loved them for many years, but there's this seed that's planted and your brain starts working on it, and blowing it up into something huge.

"You know what, that's true! They're always like that!" - And you add a new narration to your whole relationship.

So quick with one new little piece of information to totally change your feeling towards them?

That's what's happening here. - "God has always been like this."


Weary : cynical Christians.

That's why I'm really weary of cynical Christians. In a lot of ways, that was our original sin.

Suspicious people always find what they're looking for.

Richard Rohr - Whenever's there's suspicion, you will always then find evidence for what you suspect.

It's the people who think the US government was behind 9/11 that just so happen to always be finding evidence to support that.

This is what happens to Eve.

Whereas before they were happy to not know everything. They just knew what they knew and they were fine with God knowing the thing that God knows.

They were never bleeding over into God's territory. They didn't have to understand everything. They weren't the judge of what was good and bad.

But then this temptation comes to KNOW. To BE CERTAIN.

To know like God knows.

"Evil" tree?

Interesting - I used to think of this as just the 'evil' tree. But it's not just the tree of the knowledge of evil. It's the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. BOTH.

Even seems like there's something negative in being the expert of all things good.

The tree is the temptation to Play God.

To be the person who boldly declares what is good and what is bad.

You'll recall in the previous 2 chapters, God was going around saying 'That's good, that's good, that's NOT good, that's good.

And now this is our temptation to go and do the same thing.

I think the reason this is an issue is because there's some things that only God knows, b/c only God has all the information.

So how can we be the people who walk around declaring 'Yup, that's definitely good. Yup, that's definitely bad. That guys a good guy. And that guy there, he's the bad guy. He's in, he's going to heaven, but not that guy.'

That's all God's territory, and he guards it from us.


Eat from - tree. - Ashamed - nakedness.

So they eat from the tree. And they're instantly ashamed of their nakedness.

But God didn't have a problem with their nakedness, they were exactly how God made them. So when they ate from this tree, this did seem to get a certain amount of awareness, but they didn't know how to process it all, so instead of helping them, it actually hurt them.

The danger here: People can spend so much time in the Christian faith where we start feeling like it's our RESPONSIBILITY to always know what and who's good and bad. And have an opinion about absolutely everything.

Jesus in Matthew 7 - Talks about judging - the word he uses means to 'separate'.

We feel that we are good to separate the good from the evil.

As a result, this story, kinda of the opening story of humanity, we don't know what to do with so we don't spend a lot of time on.

I think we live in this world constantly. Where we're making judgement calls about other people ALL THE TIME.

Greg Boyd - mall Greg Boyd talks about going to the mall and after people watching for a few minutes, being amazed at how many judgements he's making about all the different people walking by.

I think we live in this place all the time. Where we're not just judging people's actions, but we also pretend we know their motives, and their hearts when or course we don't.

The heart of the problem of judgement is that we start with the assumption that we know. And of course we don't.


"Of course I can! I can judge rightly b/c I have the scriptures.

That's exactly what the pharisees said.

They quote a LOT of scripture. So they felt SUPER confident to judge other people, but they were no more qualified than anybody else.


In the NT there is nothing that Jesus is harder on than religious sin.

That may be the ONLY thing he was hard on.


"But Jesus judged people!"

Well 1, He's Jesus. So he's qualified to, and you're not. 2, the thing that Jesus judges is people being unmerciful & judgemental.

So Jesus's judgements should actually steer you AWAY from being judgmental.

He's SO compassionate towards the most sinful of people. And then he comes to the people who are sitting around making judgements against others.

  • You Fools
  • "You snakes"
  • "You whitewashed tombs."
  • "You Murderers"
  • "Sons of hell - you make - worse - yourselves."
  • "Children of the devil."

I believe Jesus LOVES the Pharisees. Truly. But I think he knew the only way to break through was to just smack em in the face. METAPHORICALLY.

B/C they're already playing God.

That's kinda the problem: "If you're playing God, then you don't need God." Who needs to pray if you already know everything?

This is why the Pharisees are actually farther away from God than any other sinner.

You can spend years in church training to BE God and actually be drifting farther and farther away from dependance on Him.

The temptation is 'we can know like God' and not realize that we're trivializing our need FOR God.

"Moralism" - tricky.

That's why moralism is such a tricky thing. Following God will produce in you, morality. But we must never put that morality at the head, or we eliminate the need FOR God.

(QUOTE - Greg Boyd)

Jacques Ellul - 20th century - Christian/Philosopher.

'The Subversion of Christianity'

Greg Boyd 'Repenting of Religion' - Jacques Ellul - Early 20th century Christian and philosopher. 'The Subversion of Christianity' - Quote from book.

This is why even though the Pharisees are the most 'moral' they're the ones most strongly criticized by Jesus. They're substituted their own morality for God.

Which is always wrong.

Jesus was condemned and continues to be condemned by people who hold morality as more important than love.

Everyone acts like living from love is the easy thing and legalism is hard. But that's crazy. Truly loving is WAY harder than just 'Don't do that! That guy is the enemy!' That's easy.


As long as I'm always eating from the knowledge of good and evil, I don't need God.

I become LIKE God, knowing good and evil.

Can we be honest. The times that I feel the BEST about myself is when I'm exposing the WORST in someone else. Aren't you the same?

You have to admit, talking about people who are really messing up bad, as unbelievably fun.

And it takes my attention off all the ways that's I'm imperfect, and still growing. So if I can just stay in this place of making judgements of other people, I never have to look in the mirror.


Matthew 5

Keep in mind, he's talking to a lot of very devout, religious, jews.

Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ (Matthew 5:21)

But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. (Matthew 5:22)

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ (Matthew 5:27)

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ (Matthew 5:31)

But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

The point is not "Man! We better be tougher on those sins too!"

No the point is the even the playing field. No one has room to boast.

  • Jesus is saying "You look at the murderer with judgement, well I'm saying you're a murderer too.
  • "You look at the adulterer with judgement in your heart, well I'm telling you, you're an adulterer too."

'Thank God ≠ THAT kind of person.'

So to those of us who sit around and say 'Thank God we're not THAT kind of person.' Jesus comes and says 'Actually you ARE!'


Colorado Church Pastor

Years ago - I attended a church in Colorado during bible college and the news broke that this pastor who was very outspoken in his opposition to homosexuality, was having sex with a gay prostitute the whole time. And then it comes out that he was addicted to crystal meth.

You're probably not on crystal meth right now, but I bet that story somehow makes you a little euphoric.

Judgmental people, they don't need crystal meth.

Who needs crystal meth when you can be right?

That's the best drug of all!

Superiority, get you high as a kite. People feed off it, they need it.

Nothing feels better than being the virtuous one in the middle of all these horrible sinners.


Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.

(Matthew 7:1)

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

(Matthew 7:2)

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?

(Matthew 7:3)

How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?

(Matthew 7:4)

Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

(Matthew 7:5)

So again, this word he uses when he talks about judging basically means 'to separate'. - These guys are over here, and these guys are over here.


So to balance, does this mean we can't recognize what's sin and what's not? Of course not. But even that, we do it with humility.


Pretending - know - motives / whole story.

I believe judgement has a lot to do with pretending you know other people's motives, and pretending like you know the whole story but you don't.

Story - Mean guy - fluid brain

Awhile back I came across a story about a man who worked at a doctors office and was just the most awful guy ever. Everyone thought the knew the problem, "he was a huge jerk! Well come to find out, there was too much fluid or something surrounding his brain and it made him super mean, they began to treat it and over night, he became like the nicest person they had ever met.

I love that story.

We never know all the reasons why people are the way they are.


I certainly don't feel qualified to pronounce eternal judgement on people.

If you feel confident to say who's in heaven and who's in hell and all that, that's fine I guess, I just know I'm not touching that with a ten foot pole.

Ross - Catholic church "I have family members who are in hell right now because of that cult!" - You sure about that eh?

Jesus - assumed "in" - "out"

I don't have time to go into this for this message, but I go back to what Jesus when he said there's gonna be people you assumed were the 'in' people who aren't nearly as in as they thought. And then there's people who you and even THEY assume they're the outside people and Jesus says 'You guys are the in people'.


Our sins - specks / Their sins - logs

The reason our judgement is so wrong: our sins seem like specs, their sins seem like logs.

Well yeah I have these things, but I have my reasons! THEY on the other hand, their sin is unacceptable.

Jesus comes and flips that upside down. Where we perceive their sin as a spec and if we consider anyone's sin a log, it's our own.

You remember that God has gone an awfully love way to love you the way that he does.

God search me, know me, correct me. But we don't ask God to give us wisdom to become the judge of everyone elses heart. No that's his business.


Pet Peeves.

Plus I think we all have Pet Peev's - Like there's some sin that I are not hard to for me to look past.

The prostutute - I can say this with almost total confidence - I feel almost nothing for compassion for.

But then I encounter a story of a corrupt pastor or politian. I lose my mind.

I know in theory that all sin is the same in God's eyes, and that my compassion should fall on all people equally, but it doesn't.

Not qualified - judge. - Love.


Scripture bullets. It gets really sticky when we have scripture bullets to shoot at people. Hopefully we all know this: There's a right and a wrong way to interpret and to use scripture. And using it as a way to judge others is the wrong way.


The center for us as Christians is not judgement, it's always love.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 - That love is greater than anything. We can be the unbelievably talented, devout Christian in the world and if we don't love, it's nothing.


Of course - times - recognize : Destructive patterns - confront

Of course there's times when we recognize in each other destructive patterns and confront them, but we do it from a place of love, not judgement.


In closing : How - live w/ love ≠ judgement : center.

Of course this all comes from being connected with God and led by the holy spirit, that's really how to do it, but these will at least point us in the right direction.

1. Live in humble self awareness of your own Sinfulness and Brokenness.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"--and I am the worst of them all. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Hard edged preachers - healthy - awareness. I'm not a super hard edged preacher. But I see some of these super intense preachers, that make us leave with our tail between our legs. There's lots of reasons why I think they're destructive, but at the same time I think it's healthy to have an awareness of your own imperfection b/c it shapes how we treat others.

Preachers 'No awareness - sin.' Some preachers will say 'God wants you to have absolutely no awareness of your own sinfulness.' And I think that's a whole lot of hoo-haa. When is being 'self righteous' a good thing? The answer is never. We really we've been saved by grace and God has washed us white as snow, but we always remember that it's not because we're so wonderful.

The writings of Paul are constantly in this tension. - We're righteous because of God, and we remember that we have no reason to brag.

Paul says - Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.

Rose colored glasses. Know that you're always in a state of looking through rose colored glasses, that are going to minimize your sin and magnify other peoples.

So we always come humbly.


2. Live in the love that always hopes and believes.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

I always want to be the kind of person that always see's the best in people.

I'm not looking for opportunities to be taken advantage of.

But I always want to HOPE and I want to BELIEVE.


Jesus can always see things that no one else can see.

Jesus comes across marginalized people that the world has written off, and he recognizes that these are precious people, made in the image of God.

We take so much pleasure in being people who 'Call it like it is.'

Any idiot can call it like it is. It takes the holy spirit to see under the surface. To see life and potential and hope in broken situations.


This is so true in the church right now.

People get to excited when they hear a preacher than 'tells it like it is'.

But rarely do the 'tell it like it is' preachers tell it like is it about themselves. No it's just the people OUTSIDE their accepted communities. That's not bold. They're saying things about people outside their walls to a group of people that there's no chance they would possibly disagree with. What's bold about that?

It's bold to see hope in dark situations.

It's bold to cast off judgement and put on love.


3. Live in the love that covers others the way God covers you.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Remember in Genesis 3 - They blew it, and God comes in and makes clothes for them.

No excuse for them, it was their bad. And God covers them.


I'm not saying that we need to remain silent in abusive situations.

That would be empowering the abuser and we're not called to do that.

But we don't shame people.

Most of the time we call people out, we have nothing to do with it, so we're just people booing from the outside, which does nothing.

And I don't delight in the failures of others.

How many time has someone been talking about someone else, maybe someone they admire and I'm like 'Well if you knew the truth about them…' And then I go and tell the truth about them. That's not helping. That's hurting.


Noah & son Ham Noah get's wicked drunk and naked. And his sons basically laugh at him. And God get's more mad at the sons.


(As we prepare in communion)

The only chance we have to make this a possibility is we love because he first loved us.

Our love is a response to His love.

It's amazing the kids can do this. When you're a child, you imitate. And eventually becomes the way that you are too.

If you need a place to look, look to the cross. And then you imitate it.

As they pass - spend a minute asking God - "Where does my love need to grow?