Look Beneath The Surface

If you attended the 11AM service at Mountain Lake Church this past weekend, you got more than just a church service.

You got a show.

Let me explain. Our church is in the middle of a teaching series called, Don’t Be A Victim. In it, we’re learning how to overcome our sins and failures and prevent a “victim mentality” from ruling our behavior. In other words, we’re not excusing wrong behavior in our lives; we’re learning how to rise above it.

Of course with Halloween approaching and a title like Don’t Be A Victim, we’re also having a bit of fun with some teaching illustrations straight from horror films. We’ve poked fun at Jason, Michael, Freddie, and Chucky…..you know, all the famous scary, movie killers.

That’s when it happened.

A woman yelled out during the church service calling our church evil for putting up a picture of horror film characters on the big screens. She didn’t wait to hear what the Pastor taught about, didn’t wait to hear if it was biblical, and didn’t talk to our leadership. She didn’t get all the facts, and she misjudged.

She’s not the first to misjudge. We’ve all been guilty of it, haven’t we? We jump to conclusions when someone types a status update on social media, we size up people we don’t even know, and we form opinions based on third-party information. Oh, don’t be pious. We ALL do it. So, when this woman yelled out in our church service, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words in the book of John.

John 7:24 “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”

Turns out Jesus had been on the receiving end of misjudgment. The cliff notes version of the story in chapter 7 is that Jesus had healed someone on the Sabbath, but the religious leaders of the day were adamant that absolutely no work was to be done on the Sabbath. But the leaders had misjudged both the Law and Jesus. Because of their misunderstanding, they cast unfair accusations at Jesus and missed being part of His activity.

That story teaches an invaluable lesson for us all: Get all the facts before  jumping to conclusions.  Jesus instructed them – and us – to look beneath the surface…consider the motivation…before judging someone’s action.

Why?

Misjudging hurts us. And others. The woman who yelled out in our church services gathered her belongings and left in the middle of her tirade. It was quite the spectacle. But, she missed a fantastically helpful, biblically based message. She missed becoming more like Jesus, belonging in relationships with good people, and receiving the blessing of our environment. And she caused others to stumble in their hearts,  I’m sure, with doubts or questions about our church and our leadership. At the very least she caused an unwarranted distraction to the message.

Misjudging is costly. It was for this poor woman, and it is for us, too, each time we jump to conclusions without all the facts. Let’s heed the words of Jesus, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”

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4 thoughts on “Look Beneath The Surface

  1. I enjoy reading your posts but this one had me going for a minute. I have never attended a service in which someone made a spectacle of themselves but I find this occasion one to comment on.
    If she is a member of your congregation I am wondering what could be going on in her mind right now. Is she regretful and embarrassed for what she did? I am sure by now she is. Does she feel she is beyond forgiveness? God, our Heavenly Father forgives and teaches us also to forgive. Can she salvage her character by an apology to the congregation? If she is truly sincere and makes the apology openly, then I say she can salvage it. All this, with the absolute help from the entire congregation, by showing her she is forgiven for her outburst is the only thing that will give her redemption. Most of all, forgiveness by the pastor whom she interrupted, is what she needs.
    On the otherhand, just suppose she isn’t a member; so now what does she do? How does she feel? Does she feel quite superior for her outburst? Will she ever set foot in your church again? How do you handle that one?
    I don’t think this should be ignored; do you? Or did I blow this up beyond what it really is?
    I feel this woman needs to be reached and hopefully she will allow you to explain what was going on in the presentation and why you chose that particular way. Maybe her soul is lost but one thing we do know is that Satan really did a number through her. She needs to be loved and forgiven first and then she needs to be shown what it is to be a Christian, one who loves Jesus and one who can forgive and try to bring her back into the fold. Forgiveness is so hard at times for me to do but prayer and our talks with Jesus will put us back on the right track regardless the situation.

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  2. wendy martin says:

    we are so human, aren’t we? Praise God for his mercy and Blake for his courage to persevere and for Tricia for her insight to write the truth!

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  3. JL says:

    My family has attended (and are members of) MLC going on 8 years now. I wasn’t at the service last week, but heard about it through a family who has only visited MLC three times.

    The father said he was taken quite aback by the message, as well. I then asked him if the outburst had not occurred, would he have had a different opinion about the sermon… He said he felt that not referring to God, the Bible or Jesus for almost 15 minutes into the sermon, coupled with the images on the screen (his son attended the service with them), still concerned him and conveyed a slight irreverence. However, on a positive note, he did say he appreciated and enjoyed Blake’s testimony throughout the remainder of the service.

    I supposed everyone is entitled to their opinions, but none other than God are entitled to judge…

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