We must be reading a different Bible; because mine doesn’t tell me to spend a lifetime judging others. Neither does it tell me to admonish everyone I see or meet. Nowhere does my Bible tell me to condemn people to hell. Nor does it tell me I’m better than you. And it surely doesn’t tell me that I am closer to God and Heaven than you.
So where exactly do self-described Christians get their calling to spend a lifetime doing these things? Why does much of the human race feel the need to tear down their neighbor instead of building them up?
As a Christian, the Bible instructs me to admonish my brethren. But who is my brethren? As a minister, I am even more expected to do this. But where do I find my brethren?
I must realize that my neighbor is not necessarily my brethren. I must face the truth that not all Christians are my brethren. To be truthful, I have observed many types of Christians throughout my life. I myself, have been a part of different Christianities.
What could I possibly mean by that profession? I firmly believe that two very different types of Christianities exist side by side, and not always peacefully. This is not judgement. This is mere observation.
First, there is the Christian who calls themselves Christian because they believe in Jesus and a god. This Christian just doesn’t believe in the God of the Bible. This Christian looks upon the Bible (and Christianity) as some sort of buffet; plating what they like and leaving the rest behind.
The Jesus and god of this Christianity is made in their hearts; their feelings; their own understandings and desires of what their god should be. They don’t necessarily believe that Jesus was both the Son of God and God in the flesh.
These Christians have their own ideas of what is right and what is wrong. I have personal experience with both of these Christianities. Whenever someone asked me if I were a Christian, I never hesitated to confirm that I was. I asserted my belief in Jesus and in God. Just not the Jesus and God of the Bible.
How did I display this Christianity? The answer was always, the Bible. I cherry-picked what I agreed with and disregarded the rest. In other words, I was content on living with my own personal version of the Bible.
While I learned early on in my Biblical Studies that I was, at the time, in the wrong Christianity, I have spent years reacquainting myself with the second Christianity. That is, I understand now that my feelings can’t make up God.
I understand that the Bible is inerrant, regardless of what I feel. I am without a doubt, fully committed to the one, true, living God of the Bible. This is not about being a blind follower. It is an educated decision.
The reality is that not every Christian makes this decision through their own study and examination. Many rely on what others (including Priest and Pastors) tell them and form mix what they’re told with the feelings of their own hearts.
Don’t get me wrong; most Christians of course, get their information; their learning, from a priest or pastor. There’s nothing, per say, wrong with that. But, and a very big but; the apostle Paul himself tells us that we must “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil, (1 Thes. 5:21-22), (Bold=author’s emphasis).
As I mentioned earlier, my neighbor may not be my brethren. If this is the case, the bible does not call upon me, even as a minister of the Word, to admonish or warn them about the consequences of their actions; whatever they may be.
My brethren, as the apostle uses the word, is my fellow believer. I believe that the Holy Bible, in its entirety, is the inspired word of God. My fellow believer, my brethren believes the same.
I believe in the God of the Bible, (as described and revealed), and my brethren believes the same. Yes, I am using the term, my brethren, in a very strict sense here. I am doing this that I might help others to have a better understanding of what Paul means when he uses the term.
If my neighbor does not believe in the Bible, or in God or in Christ, then this neighbor is not my brethren. He or she is not a fellow believer. Please don’t misconstrue my words here, as being unloving, unfriendly, harsh, or condemning.
When Paul writes, “Greet one another with a holy kiss,” it is obvious to most that he’s not telling us to go about our daily lives greeting people with kisses. While most do greet family and loved ones with a kiss, this is quite different, (2 Cor. 13:12).
Too many Bible believers today, believe that they are standing on a higher moral ground. They see themselves as being closer to God (and Heaven) than those below them. Even non-Bible believers, but those that think themselves have a higher level or morality, so to speak, do the same.
Also, in many cases, those trying to stand on this higher moral ground, are not even in the mix of believers and non-believers. They instead consider themselves merely in a higher social class (possibly financially or other) than the rest.
Consider this if you will. I am Pro-Life. Nothing I write here today changes that. While I am without a doubt, Pro-Life. I also believe in freedom of choice. God believes in freedom of choice. God created it. If you disagree, you must take that up with God not with me.
Saying I believe in Free Choice does not mean I am pro-abortion. I am absolutely against abortion. That said; the Bible does not tell me to admonish, harass, protest, charge, or condemn anyone who believes different. The bible tells me to admonish my brethren; my fellow believer, (Col. 3:16, Luk. 17:3, Rom. 15:14).
Yet, nowhere does the Bible instruct me to drive over to a stranger’s home across town and admonish them, attack them, verbally abuse them; call them out as murderers, or anything else.
In the apostle’s letter to the Colossian church, he wrote, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” (Col. 3:16
Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians; “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone,” (1 Thes. 5:14). He is referring to the brethren, fellow believers in the church, not our neighbors down the street or across town; not strangers.
With much examination of the apostle’s writings, it is very clear that what he instructs us to do, we are to do within our own church circles; within our own family of brethren.
What’s my point? Remember, as we judge others, we also will be judged, (Mat. 7:1-5, Luk. 6:37, Joh. 8:7, Jam. 4:11-12, Rom. 2:1-3, 12:16-18).