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How God feels about our criticism

Yesterday’s blog tried to assess what we can learn from the Lakeland Revival.  As I read opinions from its critics and proponents, I must admit, some of their comments grieve me.  Not so much for being wrong or right, but for having such an ungracious attitude in the process of making a…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Yesterday’s blog tried to assess what we can learn from the Lakeland Revival.  As I read opinions from its critics and proponents, I must admit, some of their comments grieve me.  Not so much for being wrong or right, but for having such an ungracious attitude in the process of making a point. 

For example, one exchange (comments 35-37 on this blog) got especially heated and personal as a guy who called himself Al Uminum (I checked and it was a made-up name) told Sherry to “get a clue.”  So I jumped in with this comment:

“Get a clue Sherry” is a particularly graceless way to communicate your conviction. It is a demeaning, diminishing phrase that reveals a broken attitude toward people whose view is different than your own. I’m sure those people who love you would say, ‘Oh, he didn’t mean to be so brusque, he’s harmless really.’

You may be right about Bentley, but to our blog readers you may look like a Pharisee who is just as broken as Bentley, while sadly lacking the humility to acknowledge it.

When one of my subordinates displays this kind of gracelessness, I usually ask them to apologize. You might want to consider the mix of truth and love in what you communicate, especially in a public forum. You may be all right in what you say, but completely wrong in the way you say it.”

OK, a confession: I can be just as guilty as anyone of this attack dog mentality that I’m taking “Al” to task for. In fact, my first draft of yesterday’s blog missed the mark on this score.  I have to continually watch my words.  In that regard, I especially love a story that businessman and missionary Gene Horn told me.  It colors the way I view our assignment down here on earth.  In fact, I found it so impactful, that years later, I called him back just to check the details.   Here they are:

When Horn was a younger man, a faith healer came to town.  Signs appeared on buildings and telephone poles all over town well in advance of the evangelist and his team.  Horn’s expectations were high.

On the day of the crusade, Horn arrived, brimming with curiosity.  But the crowd in attendance was much smaller than he’d expected.  And when the evangelist came out on stage, he did not fit Horn’s picture of a faith healer.  As the service wore on, things seemed to go from bad to worse.  After preaching for 20 minutes, they spent nearly as long on the offering, seeming to want to squeeze the last dime out of the audience.

Finally the time came when the evangelist was going to pray for people.  By this time, Horn had grown quite cynical.  “This is ridiculous,” he thought to himself.

But then the most amazing thing began to happen.  As the man prayed for the sick, they were healed!  Horn could not believe his eyes.  The miracles were undeniable.  It seemed so out of place with the cheesy way in which the man conducted his ministry that Horn became indignant.  “God, how in the world is it that this man is seeing all this happen?  Why are you blessing his ministry?”  He asked.

It was then that one of the most flabbergasting and humbling experiences of Horn’s life occurred.  In the middle of the auditorium, God spoke to Horn in an audible voice:

 “How dare you criticize one of my flawed servants; you’re one too.”

Horn was amazed and crestfallen.  The rebuke changed everything.  God restricts himself to work through us and we’re all flawed servants.  We’re all Pharisees lined up with accusations and stones we’re waiting to throw.  But God isn’t looking for that.  He’s looking for a posture of humility that results in an attitude of grace.

Comments (10)

  • Amen… Received…

    You know the best comment I see on your blogs Seth? The one that always says, “Daddy Seth, I love you and am praying for you.” I don’t even think this person reads the blog. He/She just wants to express his/her love for you. I’m pretty sure God has that same nature. THAT is grace! He does not reveal our flaws, He just simply loves us.

  • I love how Paul handled the same criticism 2,000 years ago:

    “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 put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

    But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”
    Phil 1:15-18

    2,000 years ago there were people that didn’t quite have all of it right. There were some that did it for money or glory. There were some that said the wrong things or didn’t set the best example.

    And I love how Paul just says, “Okay, but don’t worry about them. God is still in charge and will work through whoever he works through.”

    And it correlates with his whole “plank theory” that we should focus on what we are doing and saying more than others, because in the end, we can only control ourselves.

  • =) Yea man!

    We are so loved- it blows my mind!

    God must weep over how bad we can misrepresent Him. But I believe He truly laughs over us when we finally realize it and begin to love as He loves.

    Then and only then do we begin to grasp that gravity that drew Him unto us. Love And He loved us first.

    Have your way Lord!

    Love ya Seth- thanks for your heart!

  • Seth-
    A good story and one we should take to heart. For my part, I just thought it was a pretty weak thing for “Al” to do, sign on under some assumed names: also look at “Jim Nasium” and a few others… I appreciate the need for privacy, but it’s amazing how anonymity makes people act in ways they wouldn’t in public. Like another of your commenters said, they are more important things to channel our fervency toward than to get personal in blog comments. . .

  • Seth – proud of you Man of God ! Grateful and humbled to know that we were born to be loved and love God`s humanity as part of our response as life spills out ! A.

  • Seth, thanks for the reminder to go back and check out my attitudes before God. Sometimes I forget myself and my opinions (or other people’s) can stand higher in my mind than His word and His ways. His feet are always a good place to come to regain your perspective.

    Al, wherever you are, just come back and get forgiven.

    I remember the story of Miriam and Aaron moaning about Moses and God calls them in and says a similar thing to that Horn story – “why were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Num 12) Good question. As roast preacher is the most prevalent Sunday lunch in many church homes, with pureed worship leader for dessert, we’d do well to remember God’s views on criticising His friends. I speak to myself.

    Kinda hard to always remember though, isn’t it? I thank God for the gifts of apology and repentance. At least there’s always another chance available to try and get it right next time. lol Cxx

  • Carol – funny quote: “As roast preacher is the most prevalent Sunday lunch in many church homes, with pureed worship leader for dessert, we’d do well to remember God’s views on criticising His friends.”

    good comment!

  • Of course we should be kinder in our criticisms of people, remembering ourselves, lest we be tempted. But it is not necessary to go to the other extreme and say everything is just peachy-keen when it isn’t. We should hold preachers and evangelists accountable for what they say from the pulpit, because they have considerable influence and can mislead great quantities of people. James said that teachers would be held to a higher standard of accountability for that reason. As long as you are civil there is nothing wrong with saying “I disagree with what you just said and I would like to see where you see that in the Bible.” We are called to contend for the faith. Nearly every epistle in the NT has warnings against false prophets and false teachers. While we should be Christ-like, we can get overzealous in defending the faith and over-state our case just because we love the truth and hate to see it twisted. And if we do, we should apologize and make it right. But we don’t have to kiss our brains goodbye and accept everything we hear from the pulpit.

  • Think we have it tough? One of Paul’s big goals was to get the Jews and the Gentiles to quit hating each other and together recognize Jesus. It was a really big challenge! In Ephesions 2, he wrote:

    11Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
    14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

    19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

    In Chpt 3, Paul says that the unity of the body of Christ would be so remarkable that… well, I’ll just paste what he says here:

    6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.


    10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Did you catch that? Paul is saying that the unified body of believers made up of people so diametrically opposed to each other as Jews and Gentiles was to be offered up as spiritual proof of God’s own wisdom.

    Creating unity in the body (not a bunch of automaton; a united and loving body) offers the church great promise. It is part of our spiritual heritage and part of our spiritual purpose. It is one of the things for which Jesus died. It is our church-wide call. Because it is one of the things God will use to say to the heavenly rulers and authorities, “See? The power of Christ’s love HAS to be true! Look at these guys down there They are actually loving each other!”

    Yes, debate. Yes, seek truth.

    But above all above even faith and hope is love.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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