In the 1970s, when I was a boy, "The Muppet Show" was one of my favorite TV shows. There were many characters I really liked, Dr. Teech, Beaker, the Swedish chef, the Pigs in Space crew, and others, but Statler and Waldorf were probably my favorites. Why? That's a good question. They sat up in the balcony, week after week, heckling and criticizing the jokes and performances. The talent was always terrible, yet they kept returning for the next show. They thought each other to be very witty. They hyperbolized curmudgeonly, cranky, critical people that all of us have known. It was such an intentional exaggeration that it was funny!
What is not funny, however, are the real life Statler and Waldorfs that too often populate our pews and fill our fellowship. They may or may not be up in age. They may or may not couch their criticism with humor, but either way they are not funny at all. Like those two gallery grouches, some, appointing themselves as the church's critics, sit, idly and oblivious to their own faults, and point out the shortcomings of the singing, sermons, Bible classes, programs, leadership, building use, and numberless other matters they feel need their "expert" opinion. They see so many flaws, yet somehow they keep showing up week after week. They point out others' deficiencies, but they do not volunteer themselves to help everyone see how it could be done better.
One of the signs of worldliness in contemporary society is an increasing consumerism. We are customers and, as such, critics. The media has anointed us analysts, to, in Caesar-like fashion, give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down." It takes no particular talent, nor does it demonstrate the spiritual fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). New Testament writers often urge saying and doing what leads to edification (Rom. 15:2; 1 Cor. 14:12, 26; Eph. 4:29). What passage anoints any of us as congregational critics? I cannot think of a single person or group who tore down their brethren and were praised for it by the Lord!
It's time to burn down the balcony and fire the fault-finders! That way, we can all join hands and work together to build up the precious bride of Christ. Certainly, this will draw the applause of heaven!