The couch critic exposes his own lack of expertise in his negative criticism. Sometimes we need critics. Critics simply evaluate the quality or effectiveness of our art. And if the critic is well trained in the art he criticizes, his evaluation can save the buyer time and money, and allow the artist to improve his art. But a critic that is good at the art he criticizes still has an appreciation for art that doesn’t measure up. He can spot an artist with potential.
But if he can only rant and rave negatively about the art, it is a sure sign that he has no experience that allows him to qualify potential, or recognize genuine art. He is not a artist critic. He hasn’t produced art. So if you are a couch critic, your criticism means nothing. If you want your criticism to count, get off your couch, and learn the art. And when you appreciate the hard work in the art, then your artist critic will find opinions that matter.
Your life and work is your art. That is true for those around you whether you know them or not. So when you rant an rave negatively about others, it reveals your own lack of ability. It exposes you as a couch critic. One that has strong opinions but has never done it. So do everyone a favour, and quit criticizing.
Get off your couch and go make some art. Make your life count. If you really know a better way to do it than every one else, you should be the one doing it anyway. And then, when you have learned the art, teach us to make better art with your constructive criticism. But you can only do that after you’ve become an artist critic. A critic that knows how to make art.
This is often so true in us as Christians. We hem and haw and judge everyone we disagree with. But the only question that really matters is: am I doing it better? I can easily find things I disagree with in the ministry of Heidi Baker. And yet, if you were to compare my life and her life alongside the life of Jesus, we come to the conclusion that she models His heart better than I do.
And that my friend, matters more than whether I agree with every little snippet of her theology. Before I criticize her ministry, I too need to go to the most destitute of places and be Christ to those people. I am not even sure I would be willing to spend a year in the dumps she has dedicated her life to love and serve. And yet, it is easy for me to criticize. (Heidi, if you ever read this, I admire the way you model the love of Jesus to the most desperate and the poorest of the poor in this world.)
Don’t get me wrong, theology matters. What we believe determines what we do. But remember, my theological argument is still a theoretical argument. Just because I claim to believe something doesn’t mean that I actually do. Belief produces action. We have just gone off the deep end in how we evaluate things.
If we really believe that what we believe produces action, we must assume that if Heidi Baker’s life looks more like Jesus’ than mine does, then what she believes is likely closer to what He believed than what my beliefs are. Now that is a rad thought. Often we argue beliefs that we don’t believe, proven by the fact that they produce no action. But like the Apostle Paul says: “Faith without works is dead.” So unless your faith produces works, it’s not faith.
Are we couch Christians? Christians that know exactly how others are wrong in their Christian walk, but have failed to walk it ourselves? Christians that criticize what others preach, and yet we have never attempted to model Christ in our daily lives? It is easy to tear apart another’s theology from a theoretical perspective. After all, most of our theology is theoretical at best, since we are so limited in our understanding.
But it is a lot easier to see Christ’s response to people around us correctly, than it is to have correct theology. Maybe that is why Jesus said that the world would know we had been with Jesus because we loved each other, and because we love our enemies. And yet the Scriptures never say they will know we have been with Christ because we believe the right things.
Scriptures teach us to judge a tree by its fruit, not by its beliefs. Like I said, what we believe determines what we do. And yet that very fact accuses us of believing in the incorrect things. Perhaps a healthy theology is less mental than practical. Doesn’t Jesus himself say that the way we treat the “least” of these, is how we have treated Him? Is honouring Christ not more about how we treat others than about how we believe?
And the Apostle Paul says: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV). Did you notice? “Pure” religion is to love the less fortunate. Correct theology will produce that. But you can’t judge a guy by his theology. You can only judge him by his actions, his fruit.
So how well do your actions and attitudes reflect Jesus? Do you love sinners with so much compassion that you want to have dinner with them when no one else will? Do you find yourself praying for God to not hold their sins against them? Or are you too busy telling them how horrible their life is and how they will surely go to hell.
Sin is sin. There is no need to sugar coat that. Sin separates us from a relationship with our heavenly Father. Sin wrecks our lives and our ability to love. And sin puts a burden of guilt on us to carry. What is our response to that? It moved Jesus to compassion. It moved Him to give His own life so we could live. Will my response be that self-sacrificial? Will my response be to embrace them and give them GREAT NEWS? Or will it be to judge them?
[call to engage]