How My Judgmental Attitude Prevented Me From Showing Hospitality This Easter

WLO_openhomeAfter attending an Easter Sunrise Service at a neighboring congregation, I have a confession that I hope will propel you to extend hospitality to those who appreciate a different style of Christian worship than you do.

Let me explain.

Shortly after the early morning service began, I became disappointed with their choice of songs – no traditional Easter hymns! I thought the service itself was a little too long for a chilly Colorado morning – the metal bench I was sitting on was cold! I was also distracted by a few people who were sitting close to me. One man was reading the Easter story out of a version of the Bible that I don’t care for at all. A few other people had Charismatic episodes of hand raising and body swaying. And yet another lady was decked out in a Christian bikers outfit with the Jesus headband and full leather outfit. I have to admit that I quietly began judging the church itself and many of the attendees that I just mentioned.

It wasn’t long though before I began to inwardly cringe. I realized that I had become one of the “old fogies” that I had despised in the church of my youth. You know . . . the older folks who always sat in the same pew, sang the same music, accepted only their version of the Bible as holy, and demanded that you light the altar candles like so. I remember their frowning faces of disapproval  And now . . . I was frowning just like them!

And the truth was, I didn’t know much of anything about the church or the people that I was judging. I chose to get upset over the way that people expressed their love for a savior that had sacrificed his life for them instead of appreciating the “godly diversity” that was represented at that service.

I’m grateful that the Lord stopped me in my tracks before this had a chance to fester, but through this experience I recognized a tendency in myself to judge first and show hospitality later (maybe).

One of the lessons that we learned this month was that Christ showed hospitality to those who didn’t share his values. He showed hospitality to strangers–to his enemies. The folks at the sunrise service were certainly not my enemies, but they were a little different than I was. They dressed a little differently and they worshipped a little differently than I do.

By immediately judging and caricaturizing them, I refused the Holy Spirit’s work of hospitality in my life and theirs. According to the Scriptures, hospitality has to do with the receiving and loving of strangers . . . but unfortunately I was too busy judging them to receive them or love them.

In all fairness, the Lord does give us discernment and the ability to exercise judgment. I’m not making a blanket statement that we should never judge, only that my judgments were premature–and wrong!

If I had been properly prepared to show a love of strangers on Easter morning, I might have come to a conclusion closer to the one non-charismatic David Watson did after he visited a charismatic church. He said,

Let’s face it: we often caricature Christian groups who don’t think, worship, or experience God like we do. This is a huge mistake. It’s time to stop caricaturing and start listening and learning. Should we turn off our critical faculties? Of course not. Should we listen for God’s working in new and powerful ways that will challenge and stretch us? Absolutely.

About tdillmuth

Pastor Timothy Dillmuth is the Discipleship Pastor of Voice of the Martyrs Korea. He oversees Underground University, a missionary training school for North Korean defectors, and does discipleship training with Christians from all over the world. Pastor Tim received a bachelor's degree from Zion Bible College and an M.Div. from Regent University. He lives with his wife, Melissia and their three children in Seoul, South Korea.
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7 Responses to How My Judgmental Attitude Prevented Me From Showing Hospitality This Easter

  1. vfinnell says:

    Pastor Tim:

    This is very inspirational and I agree with you. I would also like to extend an invitation for you to visit a local, Eastern Orthodox Church next Pascha. Services are around midnight and end around 2 AM. Make sure that you attend a service that has both Matins and Divine Liturgy. Some just do Matins and do Divine Liturgy the next morning, so opt for both at midnight.

    You will hear and see a completely different way of celebrating Easter. Nothing will be familiar to you or comfortable. It’s very alient to Western ways of worship. If you go, please let me know your thoughts.

    Val

  2. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this . . . I might be one of those “hand raising and body swaying” Christians! :>o Lol. You know what I have found? If I don’t know someone, I am much more quick to judge them. If I invest in a relationship with them, I am much more accepting of them. Maybe that is one of the reasons our culture struggles so much with having healthy relationships: If our relationships with others are shallow and superficial, it seems that we are more likely to judge them. I noticed that if I am in a large group and I am not getting to know people, I tend to be cynical and critical of others. I can see that this was true of my high school experience. I didn’t know the Lord, and I was in a school of about 2,000 students. Everything was so impersonal and about whether or not you were cool, popular, smart, etc. It was quite depressing! But when we take the time to invest in people one-on-one or in small groups so we can get to know them, we can build beautiful relationships, even if we are very different than those people!!

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s a good reminder to always be ready to show hospitality to others. :>}

    • tdillmuth says:

      Hi Jody – I’m actually glad you told me this! 🙂 You’re absolutely right, I find myself much quicker to judge when I don’t know someone in a meaningful way. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Linda says:

    We are proud of you, Tim. We’ve both thought, said and done much worse. Thank you for accepting us as we are at present: warts-and-all.

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