Turning Jesus Into A Stone Thrower

Beating others with the stones of our judgments

“Religion, spirituality and theology tend to be destructive when they’re not drenched in humility and love.”

Last year I gave myself permission to be a bit more critical in my writing.

Slightly more defensive.

A tad more… how do I put this?… self-righteously-jerkish.

Somehow my heart believed the lie (again), “You are right on this one,” “You definitely understand Jesus,” “Truth is on your side.”

And in the belief of such stupidity, I became what I was mostly writing against.

A stone thrower.

Yes.

One of those.

One who is happy to discredit and dishonor another human being, just because they (think, act, preach, sin) differently to me.

Seems like the easiest thing in the world is to lose self-awareness; to be blinded by pride. And that is why we need friends, and pastors, and sometimes, critics and enemies. They remind us of our weakness and invite us back to a place of humility.

Two of my leaders approached me then. They challenged some of my writings and ideas. Honestly, I was ready to hear their points of view, but I wrongly anticipated that they wanted to control my content… however, they did exactly the opposite.

They loved me through disagreements. They called me to a higher place. They invited me back to the message of grace.

And I am grateful for their fathering.

“Leaders who can’t be questioned, end up doing questionable things.” Jon Acuff

I re-learned something in those meetings: leaders are in need of correction, but that is always done in the context of relationship. Because if there is no relationship, then we have not earned the right to correct.

That is what my friends did to me, and that is what I should have done to others.

You see, I love the church. I believe in the church. I serve the church. And because of that, I also challenge the church with the words of Jesus.

But that gives me no authority to discredit other leaders in the body of Christ directly.

So I deny the self-imposed-jurisdiction to call them out through this platform. I need the gospel just as much as the people I preach the gospel to.

Leaders, sinners, theologians and misfits; we all need each other and we all need God’s grace. And the reminder from Paul is to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

I started this blog in an effort to tell the broken to have hope, and to tell the church to throw less stones.

Yet somehow, while trying to do both, I lost hope and I picked up some rocks.

I’m not planing on going back and correcting the posts that were written in moments of anger or frustration. I’m not erasing the articles that carry hints of judgments and/or theological miscommunications.

I choose to leave my errors in the light.

And I will let God cover me in the light.

I trust the Holy Spirit with my reputation and I pray for wisdom to learn properly from my mess ups. I believe in learning out loud, and I believe in embracing a journey full of detours. Because we can either be ashamed of our errors, or we can learn from them. We can focus on our mistakes, or we can celebrate the Cross. We can be truthful in our questions, or be pretenders in our assertions.

Most of my writings are internal wrestling matches that get 900 words of your attention. Nothing I say here is the gospel truth (except when I actually quote Jesus in the gospel truth).

So I ask your forgiveness for the times I nudge you to judge the church as oppose to love it more. I repent for judging styles and denominations, for criticizing leaders in different organizations.

And I repent for throwing stones.

To fix the problem of the church being too judgmental towards the world, we cannot become too judgmental towards the church. The “right” judgments won’t fix anything, trusting God with His people will.

This works both ways: “If your theology makes you feel superior to others, rethink your theology.”

Because heaven’s perspective is seeing Jesus in the rich tele-evangelist as much as we see Him in the poorest immigrant (and vice versa).

There is no us or them. There is no less or more. There is us (the broken) and there is Christ (salvation).

Jesus is still saying, “He who is free of sin, throw the first stone.”

One generation wants Him to throw stones at sinners.

Another generation wants Him to throw stones at church leaders.

Yes, for 2,000 years sinful/holy men have kept trying to get Jesus to throw a stone. And even though He’s the only one free from sin, He never will.

So I’ll leave you with this quote by Gene Edwards from the masterful book, A Tale Of Three Kings (a book I find myself reading every other year),

“Any young rebel who raises his hand against a Saul, or any old king who raises his hand against an Absalom, may-in truth-be raising his hand against the will of God.”

Let’s repent our way into the Father’s will. Let’s forgive the leaders we have judged. Let’s stop being stone throwers and critics. Let’s challenge the church to a higher standard of grace.

And let it start with us, today.

Peace. 

This is an excerpt from my new book Drop The Stones. Pre-order now:

* So, have I got you thinking? Do you agree or disagree? As always, please leave your comment below (even if it is a light “stone throwing” comment!)


Carlos is a pastor, a provocative preacher and the author of "Designed for Inheritance". He also serves as director of Catch the Fire Latin America and Chief Editor at HappySonship.com. Together with his wife Catherine, they have two gorgeous boys and are awaiting a baby girl through adoption.

20 Comments

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  1. Amen, brother. Really good thoughts on leadership. This humility blesses me.

    We can’t be focused on anything but Jesus. My prayer right now is for the “revival” that we all want to see around us to happen fully in me before I look to others. We can trust God to display His kingdom to others through us as we go after His heart 100%.

    Let’s look like Jesus!!! 🙂

  2. So, I recently stopped attending a church I had previously felt the spirit in…messages change. In this case, the message changed in such an insidious way that it took me awhile to hear the new message. It went from Jesus loves you just the way you are to Jesus loves you just the way you are, but…

    In this case, the “but…” referred to my gay son. I guess the Church knows more than I realized, as my son’s homosexuality might just be a test of their humility…condemnation isn’t love. Faith in God’s plan for EACH of us is love.

    It’s hard to remember that, but your messages help. Keep being human…

  3. The spirit of humility in this piece is super calming and encouraging. Thank you, my brother. May God empower and reward you for His grace and revelation on you; also for speaking such a necessary, everlasting and timely word.

  4. This is brilliant, Carlos. Thank you for your humility in penning it. I too have come to a similar point in writing my blog, and in my relationship with my housegroup leader. I have decided to honour him and honour my readers; to agree to disagree – and then leave the disagreement behind.

    I have also written a short piece on how an insistence on Grace can in itself become a new form of legalism, especially when it is imposed on those who have not yet reached a proper realisation of Grace. If anyone is interested, it’s here: http://tinyurl.com/jcqovpc – I feel it complements this piece, at least in my line of thinking.

  5. Carlos, you have the heart of an evangelist. Therefore it is in your loving beating hurting heart to love those who are far from the Lord first and last. I see that in your writings, protection for the not yet believers. I am the same way, a discerner erring on the side of loving on the lost. I have realized that may lead to quick judgement on the Church. Christ’s Body. I am also being convicted here and so appreciate your teachable, loving heart. Lord, forgive us both and thank you for the privilege of helping to expand your territory! Love.

    I also just set up my blog with your instruction. Posting tomorrow for the first time, yikes!

  6. God has recently freed me more from the fear of failure and I am embracing the fact that sometimes we have to learn through trying and failing. I am better able to admit my faults and failures because I am not so petrified of messing up, thus I am growing more quickly. Fear hold us back so much. I admire the way you handle a mistake. It motivates me not to fear mistakes that also affect other people because we can grow together through them. Thank you!

  7. Beautiful beautiful. I am in the same boat with you. I find it easy to love sinners and SO HARD to love the Pharisees of today. Such a great reminder. How blessed are we to have both a community and the Spirit of God to convict us back to the strait and narrow! It’s hard, but He is our guide.

    P.s. You have been such an inspiration to me in my 5 month long walk with the Lord. Thank you. I am currently reading your book “Designed for Inheritance” and your Facebook posts daily bring me joy. Keep doing what you do, even when you mess up. In His unending grace there’s no place for shame- hallelujah!

  8. This amazing man is one of my own personal pastors of the church I am so blessed to attend. I have had such a tremendous amount of respect for him, his preaching, and his heartfelt mentorship of one of my immediate family members. I could not be more impressed with the humility displayed in this article. I have a whole other level of respect and admiration for who you are as a pastor, leader, evangelist, and someone I would call friend. At no time did I think you needed to repent, but I’m in awe of your humility and candor. Real men repent and real men love Jesus. Our family loves you Carlos!

  9. “I choose to leave my errors in the light.” – courage

    “And I will let God cover me in the light.” – faith

    Thank you for modeling these qualities so well for us. Your blog and FB posts cheer me and remind me to stay focused on His will.

  10. Hi Carlos I like your article. We need more humility in the church. I agree we throw to many stones. That has been done by I would say all Christians worldwide. Nobody is guiltless in this area. I remember Christian music always had stone throwers. I always liked Christian music and always will, but people thought it’s worldly. They threw stones at the singers instead of praying for their ministry and for people to be saved through the singers ministry. That’s just an example I’ve used. Christians have thrown stones that have turned non Christians off from being saved, and Christians off from going to church anymore. Ephesians 4 verse 29 is not just dealing with foul language, but unwholesome words, stone throwing words. I’m thankfull for chistians like you. Keep up the good work. You are being used by Jesus to speak to us.

  11. I love the feel of exhortation….and the feeling of power when I “know” I got this one. Even so, I’ve always been bothered by its aftermath, which is never uplifting of JESUS. Now I understand, thanks to you. I too, have tried to cause JESUS to throw the first stone, He who is blameless. I did that last week in adult Sunday school. I have been washed clean by the word. I go back to church this week bathed in His love. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible transformation.

  12. Wrestling with the same thing this week. The Lord opened my eyes and I just realized how self-righteous I am. SELF-RIGHTEOUS. I cringed… I had to admit and accept that was who I had become. And once I was able to do that, forgiveness for all the things that make me angry on a consistent basis came flooding in. It was a hard thing, but I’m learning that instead of wanting to be right, I just want to be like Jesus. And I’ll have to just keep pushing that urge to be right away. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. You’re allowing God to help us nudge us all closer to being like Him.

  13. Thank you for this. Query- when you have a person who you were in relationship with and is walking a different path it seems in life, is pushing away from your relationship and clearly making decisions that even they in years past wouldnt advise- because the relationship is less than what it was (because they have pushed back) do you have standing to say anything? I totally agree- relationship gives you the right to speak into, outside of that it’s simply judgement/finger pointing. I yield to the story of the prodigal, desire to be like the father- but my heart is hurting for this friend.

  14. Carlos, thank you so so much for your thoughtful and sincere blog. I have been grieved how the “church” has turned against the “church” – how the “church” has joined the world in their spin, press, anger, stone throwing and talking points against the church. The church is imperfect, full of flaws and we have a long way to go but she is Jesus’s bride. Thank you for encouraging us and exhorting us to rise to our full potential in Christ.

  15. This is just so honest and so good. I have read many of your blogs and seen the journey you’ve been on. I have, like you. gone from seeing others throw stones to myself picking up stones to throw at the stone throwers! It seems that critical spirit is never far away and frequently changing shape! So thanks for this and thank God for awesome friends who love you enough to hold up a mirror when you have forgotten what you look like!

  16. Carlos I cannot thank you enough for writing this. I really needed this – I have no problem loving sinners yet I continue to throw stones at the Pharisees in my church and this really opened my eyes to the fact that I myself have been feeling superior, and prideful! I love reading each and every one of your articles – we need more leaders like you that aren’t afraid to speak the truth even if it means going against the grain and ruffling a few feathers, yet still humble and open enough to receive correction and admit weakness. Bless you.

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