christian womanSeveral days ago, a UPCI pastor posted this picture on Facebook for a large number of people to see. I was startled by the adolescent logic and erroneous message of this image.

According to the meme, the woman on the left, by the way she dresses, is Christian.  The lady on the right, by the way she dresses, isn’t one.

I can’t help but wonder why some in Christianity have forgotten Jesus, and replaced all the virtues of a Christian with a blind emphasis on such things as standards, women’s uncut hair, and pastoral obedience. Teachings like these have resulted in the UPCI Articles of Faith as the organization’s “new” New Testament.

No doubt, some leaders have truly made the movement a form of “Christianity Without the Cross”.

“This is wrong.”

“That is wrong.”

“Do this.”

“Do that.”

“The church down the street is charismatic and teaches a false doctrine.”

“The church across town is full of lies.”

Does relationship even matter?  Only if all of the pastoral rules are followed.

Hey – they do preach Jesus!  I found Jesus in a UPCI church.  At Christmas and Easter, the Gospel is usually pulled off the back shelf, dusted off, and is the gimmick of those seasonal services. The goal is still about indoctrination, first and foremost.

So, by looking at these two ladies, can you tell who the Christian is? Obviously, this one pastor believes he can…

Personally, I can’t see their hearts. I have absolutely no idea which one is the Christian. The lady on the left could be a taco thief, or even an axe murderer. The lady on the right may be a sweet person who is passionate believer who spends her Saturdays feeding the homeless.

It’s my belief that we aren’t really good at judging the hearts of people…or, a book by its cover. So, why spend so much time doing that exact thing? Dietrich Bonhoeffer once raised a great point in his book, The Cost of Discipleship: “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

Instead of judging people “saint” or “sinner” by only their looks, we should just extend a loving and warm welcome to all, and then allow the Holy Spirit and their relationship with God to dictate what they need.

Personally, that is how I strive to go about it. I have NO desire to play “God” in the life of anyone.

Someone once said, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Regarding the pastor who posted this, his own post defines him.  In his eyes, if you’re female, you have to dress like the lady on the left to be considered a Christian.

Extreme Christianity is dangerous. It’s taking a good thing, and turning it into a cult. In extreme Christianity, the focus isn’t about faith, hope, and love – it’s anywhere but there!

I wonder if it was issues like this that caused Mahatma Gandhi to say, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

When Christians go to the extreme, they aren’t focused on Christ anymore. They have Him and His Gospel shut up in the back closet, collecting dust. They are so unlike Christ.

How sad.

Look at Christ’s own words, written in Matthew 7: 1-2:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

Are those not humbling words?

I hope and pray to encourage the UPCI minister who places so much emphasis in issues of dress and standards.

Friend, have some faith in God! We don’t need to tell people how to live. That’s His job. Let’s make our focus building relationships between individuals and God. We need Jesus for that! Not dress codes, vain rules, or a hungry desire to make others obedient unto a leader. Let’s show everyone the type of love seen in John 3:16, the type of love Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13.

It’s the love that changes us and makes us more like Him! You can do it! Refocus your heart and mind on Jesus!

As for everyone else, just remember, if salvation was built upon our images, then we would all be in trouble, because we all have flaws. The spirit of the world wants us to become so engrossed with looking right…That we forgot that the most important thing is where your heart is.

Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again, rejoice!!!!! (Philippians 4:4)

Key verse to remember: 1st Samuel 16:7 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”