I visited a new church this Sunday. As I listened to the pastor rant on about politics, pop culture, and main line Christianity, I thought, “You know I don’t understand why people have to be so critical. It’s no wonder the church today is known more for condemning people than loving them. Why can’t we focus on the positive things? Are evangelicals now to be thrown in the same boat with feminists, environmentalists, and marxists? All of us pulling our hair out over some flaw in society?”
Then I realized the fallacy of my thinking. I was criticizing criticism! It only goes to show that there can, in fact, be a place for criticizing the evil of the world. There can also be a time and place for praising the good in life.
Jesus, after all, did both. He criticized many things, sometimes quite belligerently. He referred to the Jewish elders as a brood of vipers, blind fools, and sons of hell. Them be fightin words!
Jesus wasn’t afraid to expose evil when he saw it, but he wasn’t silent about acts of faith either. Read what he says about the Roman centurion in Matthew 8, or the woman who anointed him in Mark 14. These are encouraging words to come from the King of Kings.
The best illustration I can give comes from gardening. If you want anything to grow, you have to put the right stuff into the ground. First you plant seeds, then you water, maybe add fertilizer and whatever else those seeds need to grow. But that’s only half the job. You also have to watch out for the things you don’t want. Every gardener has to do a little weeding now and then.
If the world is our garden we have to sow the seeds of righteousness and pull the weeds of evil. Criticism is healthy because it opens our eyes to the problems in the world and inspires us to fix them. Praise is healthy because it inspires us to imitate those who do good. To neglect either of these tasks could be disastrous.
So my advice to you is to figure out if you are called to be a sower or a weeder, then speak up. If God has given you a gift for seeing what others miss– either good or bad– don’t be afraid to share your insights with others. Be careful, however, not to dwell to heavily on the positive or the negative. Remember ultimately that our world is fallen in many, many ways but Christ is able to redeem all of it.