DON’T Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – Part 4: “Don’t Judge!”
Welcome marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Exhausted, depleted from running the Godly, good, and being-a-blessing-to-others race? Welcome. Sit. Relax. Let’s feast.
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
Series Preface: If You’ve Not Yet, Please Take a Moment to Remember the Context of “DON’T Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”
[In part, “The Proverbial saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” means we should avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems—but might do so as a result of “interfering”, speaking up, shedding light, judging between right and wrong, or making an uncomfortable, revealing observation in any way, shape, or form.
Please spend some time chewing on this claim: a) In a culture where [radical, unresolved] emotional ambivalence—defined as “the coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings toward a person, an object, or an idea; warring, contradictory, incompatible emotions remaining unresolved in a person’s spirit; particularly complex emotions characterized by tension and conflict that is felt when someone experiences both positive and negative emotion simultaneously”—is the NORM… b) the vast majority of people make an unspoken covenant between each other to “Let sleeping dogs lie.”… Or, in other words, AVOID bringing up ANYTHING that reveals the rampant and disturbing emotional imbalance, warring in BOTH party’s spirit. Breaking this pact can be accompanied by high relational risks.
Discomfort, dissonance is the enemy of the emotionally unintelligent, worldly, conflicted human being. This is why we’ve invented 10,000 different ways to distract ourselves. So, we agree with one another: let’s not stir one another up! Rather, just let sleeping dogs lie. And yes, regarding this dilemma, the church has taken on the same attributes as the world: Don’t go bringing up “the messy stuff.”” (John Dozier, The Training Table, November 8, 2017)]
We’ve poked at some interesting and challenging sleeping dogs like, “We’re All Children of God”, “God Loves Us Unconditionally”, or “All Roads Lead to God”.
Have you been awakened in some ways?
The Sleeping Dog for Today’s Feast at the Training Table: “Don’t Judge!”
Of all the many attributes of Western culture, having “sown the wind, and reaping the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7), of abandoning the Only, One, True God of the Bible, there are three main “buckets” that come in very handy to contain the reality or our choices [sowing] and their results [reaping]. These were originally put forth by Ravi Zacharius:
a) “rampant secularization”—no God, only the here and now and “what’s under the sun” (Ecclesiastes), no shame, pleasure at any cost;
b) “rampant privatization”—what we do in our private life has no bearing on our public life, a loss of integrity and eventually meaning results; and
c) “rampant pluralization”—no transcendent, timeless Truths exists, all truth is relative, only each individual has the right, capacity to express whatever truth is to him or her
Even though the above includes lots of overlap, the sleeping dog of today is tied to the third belief and very terrible results: having sown “rampant pluralization” [all truth is relative, only each individual has the right and ability to express whatever truth is to him or her] into the hearts of a people and culture for as long as we have one terrible and destructive whirlwind we’re now reaping is this: “Don’t Judge!”
Or, by means of the footnoted version, “Don’t use your common sense or God-given knowledge, judgement, experience, redemptive wounds, or wisdom to shed light on True Truth—in the hopes of making things better in the world. Just let sleeping dogs lie; and the decay and darkness of a fallen world take its course.”
We Don’t Dare:
- express an opinion of something that’s intended to span all time, cultures, and people groups
- attempt to discern and detail a True Truth from a corresponding, opposite falsehood—best keep all comments very general, not polarizing
Or Don’t Put Too Fine a Point On Distinguishing:
- love from indifference…
- divide right from wrong…
- good from bad…
- light from dark…
- respect from anonymity…
- intimacy from exploitation…
- knowledge from wisdom…
- fresh from putrid…
- sexy from salacious…
- character from childish…
- wisdom from foolishness…
- moral from promiscuous…
- fruitfulness from fallow…
- tasteful from repulsive…
- fair from unfair…
- normal from deviant…
- fidelity from licentiousness…
- healthy from unwholesome…
- righteous from corrupt…
- strategic from “feels right or wrong”…
- beauty from grotesque…
- civil from ill-mannered…
- integrity from deceit…
- leadership from enabling…
- lots more…
After All, It’s Just Your Personal, Relative, Biased Opinion!
Has the World, the Flesh, and the Devil… WON?
Is standing for and offering True Truth now entirely out of bounds? So politically incorrect that any expression of True Truth MUST—at all costs—remain UNSAID and condemned to the same sort of SILENCE Adam was guilty of? (Genesis 3:6)
Or are our infrequent interventions so surrounded by so many apologies, caveats, excuses, and shame that the merits of any True Truth Half-Well Told is rendered so moot, flaccid, or destitute that it’s just an embarrassment… to the God of Truth and Love, and to the teller, and hearer, as well.
Certainly, one of the many effects of living in a fallen world is that falsehood will trump True Truth in the everyday. As Mark Twain observed, “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.” (Mark Twain) This is why God’s Church exists: as light and salt.
How about you? I have met far more people than not—who are very smart, experienced, competent, successful, well-paid, lauded in all sorts of ways, even people who profess to be Christ-followers—who regularly carry-out two things that help make my point:
- Offer some sound, healthy, commonsense, long or short, even Godly or Biblical insight about a situation or a someone… followed in the same breath by:
- “But I’m not judging! Don’t get me wrong… If it’s okay with them… whatever works… I’m not a Judger.”
OMG! I’m tired of that. Are you sick of it too? It’s so common and heartbreaking to see how, even in the realm of God’s SPECIAL GRACE, born-again [or maybe not] human beings meant for the betterment of the world, all of life, can be so easily neutered, silenced so that what good that might help improve things is not JUST useless, but, even worse, remains an unused portion of what God has blessed a heart with on the inside: God’s True Truth is given and meant to be lovingly released into this broken, decaying, dark and stinky world. And when it isn’t the resultant emotional ambivalence of warring contradictions in the heart is killer for one’s faith, holiness, effectiveness, and Christlikeness… even one’s humanness.
After all, what’s the difference between silenced human being and, say, an Orangutan? Except for a very poor example of naturalistic evolution? Is a knowledge-imbued yet silenced being any further along?
In so far as the COMMON GRACE side, it’s more understandable that unsaved, unredeemed people would conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12), but we’re still losing a great deal of “common good” when “Don’t Judge!” reigns in any heart. And the good never gets sown, grown, or garnering any good.
An Important Caveat: We Don’t Know, Can’t Judge, Any Person’s Heart Like God Does
Yes, there are occasions, albeit rare in my experience, where “Don’t Judge!” is righteously meant to defer to God the most intimate things of anyone’s heart. In this case we certainly not dare to assume anything about how God may be involved in anyone’s heart, life… MOST* of the time in time… but certainly for ETERNITY. [*It’s vital we use both The Spirit’s and our good judgment when it comes to being with people who say they believe in the God of the Bible, while living in obviously UN-Biblical ways. Granted, we don’t know the ways God’s working in the heart, but we cannot remain silent [E.g., afraid of being “judgmental”] as another person self-destructs by means of being a living contradiction and stranger to him or her self. God’s love and truth is given to intercede, not remain hidden. (Matthew 5:16)]
A Christian remaining silent in the presence of a fellow Saint’s self-destruction is a living lie from the pit of hell… and a clear victory for a defeated and silenced, yet still-effective, Satanic foe… worldly way… or man-fearing heart. The Church laity, especially, exists to encourage, admonish, teach, and give thanks: in True Truth, and in Love.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13)
Check out all of Ephesians 4: It is God the Spirit, speaking through Paul, exhorting, admonishing, warning, reminding, encouraging The Church. A man of God using his Godly truths, his judgment, and his loving words to help transform people and the world. A Godly apologetic. No apologies.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Having Lived in the Whirlwind of Relativism for a Long While…
We’ve likely never known or forgotten where the problem began:
Genesis 3:6 says, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, (imah) and he ate.”
Wow! Adam was with her! I don’t know about you, but that’s shocking. We always talk about how Eve was deceived. And I think deep down, we sort of blame Eve for getting us all in this mess in the first place, even though we know somewhere inside that Adam was responsible.
But what if Adam was standing right there the whole time that Eve was talking to the serpent? I think this sheds new light on just how responsible Adam was for what happened: his silence permitted death to flourish. What does this say to us about remaining silent, not doing anything when we are not sure exactly what we should do or say? Or we know EXACTLY what to say but our heart belongs to the world and not Jesus? It sure makes inactivity, silence look more sinful to me. In fact, on the Gold Medal stand for the winningest sins!
If Adam was there, then why didn’t he say something? Why didn’t he tell the serpent to get lost? Why didn’t he correct Eve when she misquoted the command not to eat of the tree? Why didn’t he suggest they go somewhere else to talk about the situation? Why didn’t he stop Eve when she reached for the fruit?
Why Adam was silent? Why are you and I?
We have been silenced by Adam and the spirit of the age… which quenches The Spirit of the Living God in our heart! But we’ve been freed by The Second Adam, Jesus Christ, haven’t we? “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Freed to do what, exactly? Yes: speak the True Truth in Love along the journey of being co-redeemers along with the Trinity to help transform the world. That’s all.
It’s darker than ever in the world today; the manifold need for God’s unvarnished, unchanging, transforming love and truth to be released into the chaos of the heart first, and then wider culture, is greater than ever; who will go?
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go…!” (Isaiah 6)
Where and How Is God Sending You and Me? Let’s Put It This Way:
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16). (Matthew 5:13–16)
Jesus identifies Himself with Yahweh in the Sermon on the Mount when He compares His disciples to the persecuted prophets of old (Matt. 5:11–12; Jer. 37–38). The disciples who speak for Jesus are like the prophets who spoke for the Lord of the covenant; therefore, Christ implies His divine sovereignty.
The prophets carried out their ministries in full view of the people of Israel, and so we are not surprised to see that their successors, the disciples of Jesus, do not build the kingdom of God in secret. This is the point of today’s passage. Our Savior calls His disciples the “salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13) and the “light of the world” (v. 14), two substances that permeate and transform the food, or the darkness, in which they are found. Like salt and light, the church is to have a transformative effect on the surrounding society.
Salt is often produced as tiny grains and is not expensive given its prevalence. Yet its value far outweighs its apparent insignificance. Christians are to be like salt and have a positive impact on the culture far beyond what is expected from the powerless. The meaning of Jesus’ metaphor is probably not limited to any single benefit we get from salt, but we will highlight its preservative quality. The church must have a preserving effect on society and by its influence prevent the world from rushing headlong toward ungodliness. Christianity has fulfilled this role historically, leading the way in the advance of human rights. But take note that we are salt only if we maintain our difference from the world around us. In the Near East, salt can be found mixed with gypsum or sand, diluting its “saltiness” and worth. The same fate can befall us if we bend over backward to show the world how much we are like them (v. 13; 1 Peter 1:14–16).
Rural communities like the one Jesus addresses in Matthew 5 well know how blinding darkness can be. Yet the glow of a city in the distance can give those living in the pitch black of night a sense of direction and bearing. Just as walking around the camp at night is dangerous without a lighted torch, Jesus calls us to be the light of the world, to live as those transformed by the Spirit so that the world will take notice and be led to glorify the Father (vv. 14–16).
Living Before the Face of God
Christ’s call for us to be salt and light is not an impossible one. In keeping with New Testament ethics, Jesus first tells us what we are and then calls us to live up to that standard. In Him we are salt and light (Matt. 5:13–16), and so we are to live out by faith what He has made us to be. If you are discouraged by your saltlessness or darkness, remember that Jesus declares you to be salt and light and press on, knowing that by the power of the Spirit you can obey His charge. (Tabletalk, Ligonier Minstries, emphasis added)
When we put our head down on the pillow, floor, mud, cardboard, rolled-up jacket… where and whatever… at night, or when we open an eye first thing in the morning, we should be asking ourselves, “In what ways have I, will I, have a God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Spirit induced transformative effect on those around me, and the world “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8)?
See you all at The Training Table next week and we’ll feast by way of poking the sleeping dog, “Knock On Wood!”
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