It’s awful. No matter how you slice it, dice it, think about it, spin it, or say it — sin is downright awful. Yet in spite of its insidious reality, we’re sometimes dismissive of certain sins. We get up riled up about some sins, but others are sort of, kind of, maybe, a little bit okay — a little bit of moderation, you know.
In the eyes of Jesus, all sin is awful. Jesus took upon himself sin of every kind when he died on the cross. Sadly, there are certain sins that run rampant in today’s church. These sins are no less odious, no less heinous, and no less awful than the worst sin you can imagine.
These sins break Jesus’ heart.
Segregation was officially abolished a long time ago in American history. Unfortunately, the roots of this sin run deep, and we see its tragic signs in many churches today.
Sadly, many churches choose to customize their approach and message to such a degree that they are essentially “designer” churches, catering to a small sliver of the population that they prefer. These niche boutiques are not churches. They are cliques.
Though we may outwardly deny that segregation is happening, we actively practice it whenever we exclude — intentionally or not — those of a different race, income level, culture, language, or some other difference. Let’s take a close look at Galatians 3:28 and make sure we’re really living it out: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Segregation isn’t just about racial exclusion. It’s about exclusion on any level. And it’s purely antithetical to the gospel.
The subject of intolerance raises a rash of intolerant objections. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Sure, there are many issues where God clearly draws the line. There are other issues, however, where Scriptural interpretations legitimately diverge.
Are you exercising the odious sin of intolerance in your attitude about any of these things? Are you tolerant of a brother whose personality clashes with yours? Are you tolerant of a leader whose leadership style is unpleasant? Are you tolerant of someone whose eschatological timetable doesn’t quite square with yours?
Are you exercising gracious tolerance in areas where the Bible isn’t clear?
Jesus’ most direct words were saved for the most religious crowd of his time — the Pharisees. He pointed out their ostentatious religiosity that was devoid of true spirituality. He dug at their “you’re in, you’re out” approach to the Kingdom of Heaven. He criticized the fact that they heap burden after burden upon the shoulders of the people — standards, rules, laws, and extrabiblical fabrications. He uncovered their prudish actions that were done for pure show. Jesus lambasted hypocrites for nit-picking sins in other people’s lives, when their own lives were rotten with iniquity.
Sadly, such hypocrisy runs rampant in many of today’s churches. We share pews with hypocrites. We sing in the choir with hypocrites. And sadly, hypocrisy rears its ugly head in our own life. If our first response to hypocrisy is to point the finger outward, it’s a sure sign that the real hypocrite is inward.
Hypocrisy’s close cousin is judgmentalism, and how often we see this attitude in churches today. One Bible scholar described judgmentalism as a “critical spirit with a condemning attitude.” It doesn’t matter what you’re judgmental about; it matters that you’re judgmental. Why? Because judgmentalism is a sin.
Christian author Jerry Bridges has observed that judgmentalism can appear in the hot-button standards issues such as dress, music, and alcohol, but it also appears in the theological issues such as Calvinism, separation, covenant/dispensationalism, modes of baptism, etc. The sinful human heart, even redeemed, is prone to judgmentalism. We are judgmental in the face of Christ’s explicit command: “Judge not.”
Stop for just a moment. If you’ve read the article this far, there is something you must now do. Pause and think.
Can you identify any of these four sins in your own life? Think back over the past week. Any segregation? Intolerance? Hypocrisy? Judgmentalism? Any trace?
If so, confess them before the Lord right now.
If so, seek out any individual whom you’ve offended and ask their forgiveness.
Ask for God’s grace in your life to overcome these sins. This article has spent some time considering some of the negatives in today’s church. Gratefully, there are many things to rejoice over. “Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).