Read Matthew 7:15-29
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2, New Living Translation)
For anyone who has known me for a while, it wouldn’t be breaking any headlines if I confessed that I am a heavy metal fan. Really I am a music lover altogether, but heavy metal is definitely one genre I can’t get enough of. One of my favorite modern metal bands is called “Demon Hunter” and they also happen to be Christian. Yes, you heard me right. There is a Christian heavy metal band named Demon Hunter.
Ryan Clark, who is the frontman of Demon Hunter, was once interviewed about a song he wrote called, “Follow the Wolves.” The interviewer was asking how that song came about as it seems so contradicting to Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:15. For instance, the song states, “Dismantle the ground they stand on, give power a name. You’ve traveled the path of slander, now bury the shame. Shed rejection; learn to follow the wolves.”
Ryan proceeded to tell a story about a person who was facing rejection within the church for the type of music he was listening to (namely Demon Hunter) and how he had corresponded with this person and found inspiration in the story. He was reflecting on the judgment going on in that church and many other churches like it. Ryan was reflecting on how we often judge based off of appearance without really looking deeper than what we see on the surface.
While Demon Hunter may sound like a disgruntled legion of demons screaming out in the darkness to many Christians who are not familiar with metal and take no liking of that genre, that does not mean they are, in fact, demonic and “antichrist”. In fact, it is Demon Hunter’s ferocious sound and image that attracts so many to come and listen to what they have to say. And behind the façade of a rough and tough metal band there is a message of hope, healing and wholeness—one that resonates with many people who are experiencing hopelessness in their lives.
Ryan concluded his interview with the following reflection, which I will paraphrase. He told the interviewer that Demon Hunter were actually sheep in wolves clothing. They looked like wolves with their piercings and tattoos. They sound like wolves with their shredded guitars and guttural growls. Yet, if you look past the surface you will see that, in fact, Demon Hunter are sheep, leading people to the Good Shepherd.
Who are we to judge? It is very common for Christians to throw the “wolves” accusation around at Christians who don’t seem to be matching up to our vision of Christianity; however, it is not our vision of Christianity we should be following. In fact, we should not be following Christianity at all; we should be following Christ! While Christ did warn us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing, he also told us we would know who’s who by the fruit they bore. Which bears better fruit: the tree of judgment or the tree of hope, healing and wholeness? Anyone leading people to the latter is certainly doing God’s work.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
The value of a person lies far beyond the scope of our human sensibilities.
Lord, open our hearts and minds to those who look, live and lead differently and help us to celebrate the work they are doing for your Kingdom. Teach us to be a people of discernment, but not of judgment. Amen.