Are you a Critic or an Agent of Change?

The world is filled with critics. I’m not talking about the people who write the reviews that wind up on rottentomatoes.com. I’m referring to a word best illustrated by those in the old school: The NAY-SAYER. These are the people that have never seen an idea that they couldn’t criticize.

There’s a little bit of a critic in all of us. I think this is a good and constructive piece of our humanity. For example, I don’t think a lion has ever paused with a mouthful of Rhino and asked a member of his pride, “do you think this could use a little more salt?” Constructive criticism can lead to some of the greatest changes and innovations the world has ever known. However, a critical spirit can be as ugly and detrimental as a well-placed explosive.

There is an ugly, age-old, Satan-entertaining practice within the body of Christ. It occurs when we absolutely ignore what Jesus asked God for in one of His last recorded prayers on planet earth: “Father, let them be one as we are one.” Spoken on the night before his egregious betrayal and brutal murder, this prayer should absolutely redefine the way Christians respond to each other. Sadly, a quick glance at the blogosphere could tell a different story.

Why are there so many critics? Because it’s easy. When I criticize something, I immediately feel better about myself. I pointed to something and called it bad. The unspoken thing that I am actually shouting would look something like this: “AREN’T I SMART FOR FIGURING THAT OUT? Who’s impressed?” Perhaps this is why scripture says that knowledge “puffs up.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that just because you are a Christian, that you should get a free pass. I believe that the right change always begins with asking the right questions. I also know that the only real way to affect a lasting change within the body of Christ is actually within a BODY OF CHRIST. I can’t find an example in the New Testament of what I’m supposed to do if I disagree with a preacher I read about online. I read a ton about what I’m supposed to do about the brother or sister in Christ next door.

I hate that a lot of young guys (and some young women) feel like they are solving the world’s problems simply by agreeing about who to disagree with. Here are some helpful things to remember:

- Noticing something is not the same thing as making a difference. (it’s step one in a multi-step process.)

- Talking about discipleship is not the same thing as making a disciple.

- Pointing to something that is wrong does not mean that you are right. (just ask the Pharisees.)

- Critics are usually silenced and almost always forgotten.

- Agents of Change make a lasting difference.

- If you’re claiming Christ, but you’re not displaying the fruits of His spirit in your approach, you might want to take a second look at the thing sitting next to your contact lens…it’s called a plank.

No worries. We’ve all had them (things in our lives we have to deal with before we can make a real difference in someone else’s life). Take a second and remove it (that’s called revival). Then humble yourself before God and let the Gospel wreck your life (worship). Next, show some earth-shaking love toward a brother/sister in Christ (community). Then, submit to authority (it’s just so biblical and counter-intuitive to your flesh, its bound to tick the devil off). Now go change the world.

So…does everyone get a free pass? Heck no. Critics drop truth bombs and walk away. Agents of change pay the price to speak their mind with their humility, long-term commitment, and their love.

Aaron is the pastor of Spring of Life, a new church in Portland, Oregon. He's the owner of Amplify Creative.