The Hyper-Critics Miss the Forest for the Trees
I happened upon a YouTube video the other night that was bashing a number of charismatic leaders (including me). To be sure, videos and articles like this are a dime a dozen (really, a dime a thousand these days), so I pay them no heed. But, for a moment, out of curiosity, I fast-forwarded to one part of the video, and the short clip I saw said it all. It was hyper-criticism to a tee.
What, exactly, do I mean by hyper-criticism?
It is a criticism that is destructive, not constructive. A criticism devoid of God’s heart. A criticism that is so narrow in focus that it misses a beautiful forest because of a few bad trees.
It is a criticism that finds fault with anyone (or anything) outside of its own narrow camp. A criticism that majors on the minors. It is the same criticism that blinded the religious leaders from seeing Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.
We don’t care that you’re healing the sick and working miracles. We don’t care that you’re raising the dead and driving out demons. We don’t care that you’re setting the captives free and giving hope to the hopeless. You’re violating our traditions. You’re not doing it our way. You can’t be from God!
This is what happened in John 5, when Jesus healed a man crippled for 38 years.
Jesus healed him on the Sabbath, instructing him to pick up his mat once he was whole. But when the religious leaders saw the man, they asked, “Who told you to pick up your mat?”
You see, Jewish tradition, based on verses in Jeremiah 17, declared it unlawful to carry on the Sabbath. So, when the leaders saw this Jewish man carrying his mat, they didn’t say, “Praise God! You are healed! What a miracle! And, by the way, you shouldn’t be carrying that mat. But praise God! What happened?”
No. They said, “Who told you to pick your mat?”
The same thing happened when Jesus healed a man born blind in John 9. The Lord spat on a handful of dirt, turned it into mud, then put in on the blind man’s eyes, telling him to wash his eyes at the Pool of Siloam.
When he was healed, some were praising God, but others were saying, “The man who healed cannot be from God, since he healed on the Sabbath!”
Once again, from what we understand about ancient Jewish traditions, Jesus knowingly violated two traditions — not Torah laws — by what he did. First, it was considered work to knead on the Sabbath, and turning dirt into mud would involve kneading. Second, it was considered work to heal on the Sabbath, unless it was a life-threatening condition. Theoretically, this man could have been healed on any day other of the week, but it would be prohibited to heal him on the Sabbath.
So, rather than seeing an outstanding miracle — a man born blind healed by Jesus — they saw their traditions violated. “This man can’t be from God!”
This is the spirit of hyper-criticism.
The Spirit of Hyper-Criticism
It doesn’t matter how many people come to faith through your ministry. It doesn’t matter how much Jesus is glorified. It doesn’t how many lives are eternally changed. Only one thing matters: The hyper-critics find your style different or disturbing. You don’t do it their way.
The short clip from the video focused on a ministry leader who has planted thousands of churches in an impoverished third-world nation. This ministry is also rich in works of compassion, feeding and caring for multitudes, not to mention enduring persecution and even losing leaders to martyrdom over the years.
Yet this leader was guilty of saying the same word over and over — something like 17 straight times in the sermon — obviously for emphasis. Heresy!
Plus, the way this person ministers can be unusual. A bit “out there.” Even a little weird to some tastes.
What Really Matters?
And this, in the eyes of the hyper-critic, is far more important than any amount of souls saved, any amount of solid teaching, any amount of sacrifice made for the gospel.
Heresy! Apostasy! Look out!
But the next time you see the hyper-critics in action, don’t get mad at them. Instead, pray for them — and pity them. Some of them are sincere, but their very zeal blinds them. Others are simply mean-spirited and judgmental.
But either way, they miss out on the joy. On the blessings. On the fullness of the Spirit. On the richness of the Body. On the amazing things the Lord is doing around the globe.
Either way, they lose.
Constructive criticism brings life and health. Hyper-criticism wounds and drags drown, and its first victims are the hyper-critics themselves. May the Lord expand their vision and open their hearts, so that, in the end, they will build up more than they tear down.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Jezebel’s War With America: The Plot to Destroy Our Country and What We Can Do to Turn the Tide. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.