Criticism is the opposite side of the same coin,
which is admiration. Both concern evaluation.
Soren Kierkegaard writes:
"Is God's meaning, in Christianity, simply to humble man through the model (that is to say putting before us the ideal) and to console him with 'Grace,' but in such a way that through Christianity there is expressed the fact that between God and man there is no relationship, that man must express his thankfulness like a dog to man, so that adoration becomes more and more true, and more and more pleasing to God, as it becomes less and less possible for man to imagine that he could be like the model? ... Is that the meaning of Christianity? Or is it the very reverse, that God's will is to express that he desires to be in relation with man, and therefore desires the thanks and the adoration which is in spirit and in truth: imitation? The latter is certainly the meaning of Christianity. But the former is a cunning invention of us men (although it may have its better side) in order to escape from the real relation to God." (In David Augsburger, Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor, 28)
Real Jesus-following is a following-after Jesus, joining in rather than spectating. It's not pew-sitting and being entertained, but "following the footsteps of ChrIst in imitation" (St Francis of Assisi, in Ib., 27). In the early church no one asked, "Did you like the worship?" This is because they were the worshipers. The people were part of the Jesus Movement, not apart from it.
Real Church was never meant to be an entertainment center. David Augsburger says that authentic Jesus-spirituality "accepts no substitute for actual participation." (Ib.) He writes:
"We are not observers, not spectators, not admirers, not onlookers, not conceptualizers, but participants. Participation is the central theological framework of all careful thought-about spirituality...
...The ideal of discipleship as participation through the imitation of Christ is a recurring theme, reemerging wherever the practice of following Jesus in life is given priority." (Ib.)
Anyone who claims to belong to Jesus must follow the path taken by Jesus. Jesus is looking for disciples, for participants, not an audience of admirers or critics. (