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.
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.”