Kingsport Times News Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Community Faith

Clergy urged not to judge but speak truth in love

April 6th, 2014 11:15 am by Leigh Ann Laube

Clergy urged not to judge but speak truth in love

During the Clergy Appreciation Luncheon, the Rev. David Wheeler used luncheon guest Cheryl Harvey to demonstrate someone who has a log in her eye and the importance of removing that log from your eye. (Leigh Ann Laube photo)

The Rev. David Wheeler, quoting Matthew chapter 7, urged local clergy not to judge, but instead speak the truth in love.

Wheeler, an associate professor of youth ministry at Johnson University, returned to Kingsport for the second year as the guest speaker of the Clergy Appreciation Luncheon, an annual event co-hosted by the Kingsport Civitan Noon and the Kingsport Civitan Evening clubs. This year's luncheon on March 27 drew dozens of clergy to First Broad Street United Methodist Church.

A 1973 graduate of Johnson Bible College who was on staff at First Christian Church in Kingsport from 1973 to 1977, Wheeler mentioned David Kinnaman's book "unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity ... and Why It Matters." The book, he said, shows readers what young, non-Christians think of Christianity — that Christians are mean and judgmental.

"They're judging us harshly because they think we're judging them harshly," he said. "Matthew 7 says, 'Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,'" he read. "'Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.'"

Jesus called out the Pharisees in Matthew 23, calling them "hypocrites," "blind guides" and "snakes," but this was in response to their attitudes, Wheeler said.

"We're not called to be judges," he said, quoting from James chapter 4 — "There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?"

"It's not part of our job description as Christ-followers to be judges," he said.

Jesus also instructs us to not be hypocrites, he said.

"A hypocrite is a fake; someone who doesn't love the Lord but acts like they do. A failure is someone who does love the Lord, but doesn't always act like it. All Jesus had to deal with were failures — Noah, Adam and Eve. They loved God, but didn't always show it," he said. "We're not to be judges, hypocrites. We're to be people in loving relationships ... to be there saying, 'Can I help you? I'd like your life to be different than it is right now.'"

The Bible instructs us to serve one another in God.

"If you keep on biting and devouring one another, Paul says you'll be destroyed," Wheeler said.

Wheeler concluded his talk by singing "Log Eye," and using luncheon guest Cheryl Harvey to demonstrate someone who has a log in her eye and the importance of removing that log from your eye.

"Log Eye! Log Eye! Well, you can't stand face to face with Log Eye," he sang.

Since 1960, Civitan clubs have observed Clergy Appreciation Week, which began as a remembrance of four military chaplains — one Catholic, one Jewish and two Protestant — who gave up their lives during the sinking of the USS Dorchester on Feb. 3, 1943. The Dorchester sank beneath the icy waters of the North Atlantic, taking with it the four chaplains and 675 servicemen.

Members of the Civitan Clergy Appreciation Committee were Jim Williams, Danna Pearce, Harvey Van Dyke, Sue Hobbs, Phyllis Streeter and Rick Streeter.

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