This post is part of a series, primarily aimed at parents who have questions about sending their son or daughter to IHOPU or young people who want to know what they are getting into there at IHOPU or the wider IHOP-KC community
I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. –Jesus, Jn. 10:11
One day there was a young shepherd, who was so excited to go visit the world’s most famous Glorious Sheepfold. When he arrived, he looked around and saw beautiful people with badges that said, “Most Excellent Shepherd.” They were standing in front of microphones, playing music, and doing many other very interesting things. As he walked forward to reach them, he tripped over something underfoot. It was a sheep, barely moving. He thought to himself that it must be asleep. He walked again, and again tripped. To make it to the Most Excellent Shepherd at the microphone, he had to step over sheep after sheep.
Once he had been sitting and listening for a while, he looked over and saw that the lethargic sheep next to him was oozing blood. He took the sheep in his arms, and began to search for its wounds. He remembered that the Good Shepherd had told him, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” While he was doing that, he heard the sound of violent retching from another nearby sheep. He looked around to see what had made the sheep sick. Soon he realized that there were sick and dying sheep all around the Glorious Sheepfold.
He realized he must do something. He began to tend to the sheep as best he could in the sheepfold. He found a deep wound, and pulled out the knife, which read “Not enough–fast and pray more.” He followed the retching sheep to where he liked to eat, and found a lush patch of grass called, “Intimacy,” but hidden in the grass were poison pride pellets that made them sick and sterile. He found one sheep’s terrified lost lamb in a pit called, “Fear of Falling Away in the End.” As he worked, some of the Most Excellent Shepherds looked over and said, “Oh good, finally a shepherd who is called to tend the sheep.”
Others came and looked at his work, and at the beauty of a clean, sheared sheep. One fine young man thought to himself, “I would like to have some good-looking sheep.” But then his thought was interrupted by the young shepherd, telling him about a particularly deep ravine. He realized that the young shepherd was trying to tell him something as if he didn’t know (which he didn’t), forgot his earlier thought, and walked away offended. “Why can’t you just hang out, dude?” he grumbled, as he walked away.
In the night, the sheep cried out with terror, and he chased away a wolf, called, “Spiritual Encounters.” As the sheep recovered, they told him stories of dead sheep, mauled by the wolf called, “False Prophecy.” They began to trust him as their wounds felt better, and there was sweet grass in their bellies. But it was hard work. Once, right after a bad incident with sheep poop, a pretty, young Most Excellent Shepherd-in-training walked by, and smelled the shepherd’s work-stench. He was tired and dirty and confused, and she wrinkled her nose and said, “I just love being clean and fresh from time with the Good Shepherd in the Care Room! The Most Excellent Shepherds never smell like that. Why are you so dirty?”
“I’m tending the SHEEP!” he retorted, a bit rudely. Her lip quivered, and she ran away crying and went to get more time in the Care Room to work on forgiving him.
But no matter how much he worked on the sheeps’ wounds, he found the damage would return. He needed help. So he carefully studied what the Good Shepherd had said, and found that all His Words were life and healing, if the sheep would receive them. He found that all the wounds came not from the Words of the Good Shepherd, but from the extra words that the Most Excellent Shepherds had added in. He became very concerned, and began to diligently teach the sheep the difference between the Words of the Good Shepherd and the ideas of the Most Excellent Shepherds.
By now the Most Excellent Shepherds had become suspicious. They had overheard him warning the sheep away from the luscious grass patch of Intimacy, and the deep pit of Fear. When they heard that he was leaving, they ran out to him with brochures. “Did you tell the sheep not to eat this grass? Did you warn them against taking the Tippy Ravine Tour?”
“Yes, I did,” he said. “Come, look how well they do on the faithful Words of the Good Shepherd! Look at this one! She was almost bled to death a short time ago! Now she is able to walk fifty feet! Isn’t that wonderful??? And this one–he was laying in the ravine when I found him. A Most Excellent Prophet had told him that his job was to be a soft carpet at the bottom! But now he stands tall and has many lambs! He is starting to tell other sheep not to lie at the bottom of the ravine. Isn’t it wonderful???”
But the Most Excellent Shepherds were filled with rage. They scared the sheep, yelling, “How dare you, you insolent boy? How dare you think you know what is good for sheep? We are the experts, the ones who know! You are filled with pride! Sit down and listen as we teach you.” Confused, the young shepherd sat down. He did not want to be prideful! When he sat down, they began to show him the brochures, and explain how excellent the Glorious Sheepfold was for the sheep. He tried to explain to them what had actually happened to the sheep in the GS. He told story after story. But they could never remember the sheep’s names, and eventually they grew sick of it.
Finally he stood up to leave. “I have to go,” he said. “I cannot stay near the Glorious Sheepfold anymore. The Good Shepherd does not have brochures. He has Words of life, and lays down His life for the Sheep.”
This was too much for them. One cried out, “Are you saying I don’t care for the sheep? Why, everyone knows I weep ALL the time for the sheep! I even wake up at night sometimes to weep for the sheep!”
Another said, “I have at least fifteen people I oversee who are specifically tasked with sheep-related duties. I am busy all day taking care of more sheep than you ever dreamt of!”
Another said, “You little upstart, I was tending sheep before you were even born.”
The young shepherd pleaded, “But the sheep were dying!”
The Most Excellent Shepherds scoffed, “Everyone knows that is what sheep do!!! They die, they retch, they stumble, they disappear…it’s totally normal! That’s why we have the Care Room, so they can have some relief from their misery. When the Great Ghost comes, he swings all the sheep in hammocks, and what could be better than that? That is his job! OOOh, I remember when he started swinging me in a hammock. It was so wonderful…” and they started to fall asleep.
But they woke up when the young shepherd answered, “But then the Great Ghost is not the Spirit of Truth, because He does not swing hammocks. He brings conviction of sin and testifies to the Good Shepherd who came to seek and save that which was lost…HE came to give abundant life…He truly saves!”
And then they all cried together “No one knows the Good Shepherd like we do, you foolish, arrogant young man! The Great Ghost has filled us with love! The Good Shepherd would be ashamed of you, with all your judgment and criticism!” And they beat him until he could barely walk. As he finally limped away, they picked up rocks to be able to hit him from afar and yelled after him:
“WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?”
Because though children be endangered, though a young wife be defiled and then murdered, though torments and mental demise be rampant and obvious, this is the rule above all: Do not judge. Pray, cry, attend funerals, sing, laugh, and be totally without discernment as you are carried passively down the stream of trauma and terror. But above all, do not judge.
With this one exception. If anyone tests the prophecies, scrutinizes false teachings, decries the destruction, and contends for the faith…then they will rise up and shake off their slumber to judge, accuse, and condemn that one. And they will cry,
‘WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?”
And in response I say this: Who are you to judge God?
Don’t you know that if you refuse to submit to righteous judgments of God, if you defy them, that you make yourself a judge of God? Don’t you know that if he calls something evil, but you call it good, you judge God? Don’t you know that if he condemns sin, but you pet and comfort it, you judge God? Don’t you know that if He rejects, but you tolerate, you judge God? Did you think you could extend more mercy than the One who gave His only begotten Son for sinners?
Oh, how ignorant and blind we are when we sit in a spirit of tolerance towards wickedness and in judgment of the Everlasting God, preferring our own sentiments and opinions.
This is the ceaseless simple trick the devil has been playing since before time (or even the internet) began. Anyone who wants to gnash their teeth at righteousness pulls out this trump card, twisting the Words of the King of Kings in the Sermon on the Mount. They forget to say that He finished His powerful command to take the plank out of your own eye SO THAT you could take the speck out of your brother’s! SO THAT! Because you must judge! It is impossible not to! In other words, do not dare rise up and create standards to judge on your own non-existent authority, but submit yourself entirely to the judgments of the One who has all authority, and then urge others to do so as well, in light of the day when you and they will both stand before His judgment seat.
When you defy the scriptural command to beware false prophets and let one whisper in your ear or shout in your church, YOU HAVE MOST DEFINITELY JUDGED! You have judged that man or woman to be fit to lead and guide the flock of God, fit to minister to your own soul. If you are a shepherd or pastor and you have done so, consider how the Great Judge will respond to your passivity when you stand before Him! When you ignore the command to test the spirits, but hold out your hands to receive a sensual, counterfeit holy spirit, YOU HAVE MOST DEFINITELY JUDGED! You have judged that spirit to be welcome to come and defile the temple of the Living God… ‘Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?’ Jas. 4:5 When you receive a teaching with disregard for the Scriptural mandate to call every false gospel accursed, YOU HAVE MOST DEFINITELY JUDGED! You have judged the Almighty to be silly, narrow, and overly anxious. You have judged the death of His Son to be something not to split hairs about. Something not to be too concerned about. Some covenant or another…who really cares what the details are? It’s just “all about Jesus,” right?
See if you can find Paul encouraging us “not to judge” in His impassioned plea…
For I am [a]zealous for you with a godly eagerness and a divine jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one Husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For [you seem readily to endure it] if a man comes and preaches another Jesus than the One we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the [Spirit] you [once] received or a different gospel from the one you [then] received and welcomed; you tolerate [all that] well enough! 2 Cor. 11:2-4 Amplified
No, my friends, this tolerance is not found in the New Testament. It is a trick of the devil. In John 7, Jesus commands us to, saying, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Let’s look at our original question again. It actually came from the book of James.
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? James 4:12 (emphasis mine)
Do you see the trick? James question swats us down like a fly if you and I should rise up to replace Almighty God’s judgments with our own. We have no right, either to condemn OR to create a more lenient standard. WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE GOD? There is one Judge, one Lawgiver, one who has the right to uphold and condemn. You and I are commanded to be doers of the law, not judges of it. We do not create the law, but we must execute it.
To use a simple analogy, if the FBI were to hunt down a monstrous pedophile who was selling children, the Department of Justice were to spend thousands of dollars to extradite him, the police were to devote manpower to guard him, and then a Judge were to sentence him to life in prison, but then the new jailhouse janitor came across him and thought he seemed nice, then opened his cell and dropped him off at the schoolyard, he became a judge over the law. He condemned the judge who sentenced the criminal, sabotaged all those who sacrificed to arrest and contain him, and became an abettor to every crime he would perpetrate afterward.
We can’t serve hors d’oevres to those whom we are commanded to call out and expose. Consider that we will stand before the Righteous Judge and answer for the children of God who suffer because of our passivity.
We have no authority. We are not judges in our own merit. We must submit to the Judge, who commanded us to with righteous judgment and execute all His commands, especially the ones He emphasizes so unrelentingly in the New Testament.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:7-9