There are 3 types of people that I know, the ones who are fiercely criticized, the ones who are quietly or secretly criticized and those living their lives unsuccessfully avoiding criticisms.
Have you been criticized before? You argue too much! You are too friendly with people! Why are you so fast? You are too analytical? Are you smarter than everybody? Are you a judge? Why do you like trying to change people? Why are you trying to be different? Are you better than us? Hidden in every criticism is a God-given skill set that is either being put to good use or is not yet properly deployed!
Criticisms did not start today? It has been with mankind from the very beginning of time as we know it today and it will not cease as long as the earth remains.
Adam & Eve were asked by the serpent, a critic of God’s words; Did God really say what he said? The indirect criticism was directed to attack the heart of Eve & Adam’s belief system. Are you going to rely on unseen words of God, when you can actually use your senses? Don’t you know that you have your reasoning faculty to use? Do you think God’s word is as realistic as it seems? Eve; BE WISE!
Adam & Eve yielded to serpentine criticisms and became earthly wiser, creating a huge spiritual gulf between themselves and God, their maker. They indeed satisfied the serpent but also had to live with guilt and selfishness, losing Godly virtues of selflessness, as a consequence of their wrong actions. They became humanly wiser, but began to live with nakedness and shame thereafter. The criticism could be framed as; are you so dumb to not try out those beautifully inviting fruits? Are you trying to show us that you don’t have a mind of your own? Must everything about life be about God, God, and God??? Adam & Eve’s actions answered to declare that they would please the critic by refusing to obey God’s wish which was part of their life-assignment or calling. Their love for God was submitted to pleasing realism.
When JESUS was similarly tempted in Matthew chapter 4 & Luke chapter 4, the biggest critic of all time, the author, father and mastermind of vehemently harsh criticisms of today’s true believers, the accuser of the brethren, and silencer of divine callings equally tried to put JESUS on the defensive: if thou be the son of God, do this or do that… in order words, the criticism of JESUS was traceable to the questions of people’s doubts about His real paternity; are you trying to tell us that you are the SON OF GOD, when we know your unbelievable earthly paternity story? JESUS was needed to act on the criticism of his fatherhood by acting outside of God’s will to proof something to those who are supposed more realistic people. Jesus declined to yield to unbiblical actions by quoting written words of God to the devil.
Many still argue today against necessity of living by written words of God. The assumption is that God answers prayers of everyone including illiterates. And, so they query why these need to “force” people to read the Bible & practice principles derived from the word of God as elites do? I remember Smith Wigglesworth who lived a few centuries ago but is today recognized as an apostle of faith. He started out as an illiterate who couldn’t read or write but yet forced himself to learn to read and practice contents he found in the Bible, which he called THE BOOK. He lived by God’s words and became a progenitor of what is now referred to as the faith movement. JESUS who lived thousands of years ago, read the words of God written down by Moses, David, the prophets, etc, and could quote from them profusely as an example to us who now live in the age of technology and who should know BETTER! JESUS and his disciples who quoted scriptures and practiced them, were not even regarded as “schooled” during their times.
Jesus was asked “are you the son of God?” but he refused to be distracted by a criticism that was addressed to attack the heart of his calling! Most criticisms are deliberate attacks targeted to pierce the heart of our callings, causing us to shrink away from God-given life-assignments. People shrink away from what their hearts tells them to be true, because they do not want to offend others, hurt other’s feelings, or make others feel intimidated by doing what everyone think should not be done.
After JESUS’ arrest and shortly before His crucifixion, Apostle Peter was asked at three different times if he was as associate of JESUS. The harsh question which could have put him in trouble with religious leaders, government and an unyielding unbelieving society, was a direct thrust at the heart of his calling. Jesus had called him and eleven others to be set apart as associates in ministry. Peter’s love for Christ was subdued to fear of men, what would people say, how would they persecute him, etc. So he denied his leader and master, three resounding times. He could not confront the critics of His calling. He could not face up to critics of his faith and critics of His Lord, Master and Savior. It was not long before he backslid and returned like a dog, back to his vomit. He returned to his fishing business where merciless old devils that frustrate productive catch were waiting to torment him as they did before JESUS came to take him away, after the miraculous, city-wide-celebrating-catch of fishes. He was taken away to catch men but here he was, no longer fulfilling his calling because of critics but working again with his carnal skills.
The questions and unfortunate denials of being a follower of JESUS made him loose motivation to go forward with God’s assignment for him. JESUS had to come back supernaturally after resurrection, to ask him counter- questions; Peter, do you love me more than these? I believe he truly loved the Lord and His calling/assignment more than anything else. But, fear of critics and the fact that critics get on our divine callings, asking probing questions even before we had our minds made up, or before God got through with equipping us, often have us crippled, ever before we start off with fulfilling the calling.
Jesus repeated the question about love three times so that the three major steps taken backward during Peter’s previous denials can be retraced forward. Peter after answering Christ’s restorative questions the third time, was able to regain enough vitality to return to what God intended for him. It was not long afterward that he could stand before councils of fierce persecutors, prosecutors and attacking judges of faith, to declare to them, that YES he would associate with, work for and speak in JESUS name whom “you people crucified”. The one who was too weak to stand for his calling was now bold enough to talk down to his persecuting critics, even at the face of condemnation to death. Hallelujah.
It is high time believers stop allowing themselves to be pushed on the defensive by critics of their formed or forming faith in CHRIST JESUS. There is no doubt that those who dare critics would be subjected to bad-mouthing and character assassination! But, it is BETTER to please God than allow frustrating criticisms.
Today, if people ask me questions like, are you trying to change me? I will say YES. When they ask why? I will tell them, Yes.. because it is part of my calling. The message of the kingdom given to us starts with REPENTANCE which is a 180 degree turn-around word for CHANGE! I will not be afraid of the backlash as nobody wants to be confronted to change! Christianity is a LIFESTYLE that seeks daily improvements and CHANGES in mindsets, habits, ideologies, physiology, psychology and societies. So why should a believer be afraid to be known as a change-agent?
If they ask me, but who made you a judge? I will answer Christ Jesus. They might ask, but how or why? I will explain to them, if they are willing to learn, that the Bible teaches us to make good judgments. Believers are expected to proclaim and stand out behind truths of God’s words whether it hurts or not! Then they might say, so you want to condemn people? My answer will be NO! The believer’s job is not to condemn or to condescend on others but to be an example of right judgments! The unacceptable truth to many however is that they feel condemned by themselves, they feel insecure and “threatened” by those who thread pathways that they have compromisingly and pharisaically refused to thread. Many critics simply cannot stand the boldness, courage and “audacity” of those who choose to stand for righteousness and truth! They automatically feel condemned instead of encouraged by examples of those who are God’s-words-@-work! They automatically feel like they are cast in bad light by righteous results of other believers instead of being motivated to do BETTER too!
Also when I am criticized by the question, so you think you are different, huh? Or, are you holier-than-thou? I will say YES? Why? That is because the Bible expects the believer to be a holy nation, a peculiar (uniquely different) people and a chosen generation (1 Pet 2:9). So when next you are critically threatened by the phrase; holier-than-thou, you might what to think twice before saying NO, I am not! Why? Because the believer is called out to be holier than those who refuse to be holy!
I have since found out that when people criticize me, they are just indirectly attacking my confidence to accept what God has called me to be. Fierce criticisms are attacks on morale of people, who as works-in-progress, are still struggling to attain their life-assignment or calling. Now I understand that when this indirect attack from hell and its agents comes, I should not deny my calling and life-assignment, rather, I should ask for grace to boldly confront my fears and demonically influenced critics, demonstrating my true love for Christ Jesus, His Kingdom and God Almighty! (That is what GRACE is actually for, to be empowered to do God’s biddings, not for accommodating sins.)
For those who are criticized as being confrontational, they might need to find out if their inner calling is to be a lawyer, civil right activist, union leader, or a ferocious preacher. For those who are said to be too philosophical, you might want to be an author, a teacher, lecturer, academician or congress member. When they ask if you are the mother of JESUS, you might want to say YES I AM, because His kingdom still needs care, compassion, nurturing, provision and growth, which are essential duties of mothers. Just think about it, what have you been criticized about? Perhaps it is part of your life-assignment that needs to be reignited.
The word CHRISTIAN meaning Christ-like, now commonly used to depict our faith today, first came out of the mouth of onlookers, or on-looking critics, who criticized believers by asking the question, are you trying to be another Christ? DO NOT RUN FROM CRITICS, YOUR NEXT STEP FORWARD CAN BE FOUND IN THEIR MOUTH! It shall be well with us all!
God still needs BETTER believers who influence others towards BETTER societies!!!