I have always cared about what others think of me. It’s how I’m wired. What has changed is the perception I want people to have.
As a kid I wanted people to think I was a good athlete.
Then a great actor.
Then a great performer.
Then I wanted to be a super Christian – someone who knew the Scriptures well and was considered wise.
But none of that stuff really matters. Even the best athletes, actors, and the smartest of Christians eventually slow down, aren’t as good, or their mind starts to fail.
What I wanted to be would be temporary at best.
I needed something better to shoot for in life.
Now…I just want to be a non-judgmental, Jesus-loving theologian.
The first part “non-judgmental” is a lighting rod in the Christian community.
Some Christians believe it is our right and duty to judge others but let’s be honest – who doesn’t love judging?
We watch reality competition shows so we can judge whether or not America gets it right. Some watch shows like the Bachelor so they can judge awful people like Corinne – she’s in her 20’s and still has a nanny for crying out loud!
Judging feels great because it makes us feel better about ourselves without really working to improve who we are. That is in no way productive.
Christians are sadly now famous for being judgy in this way.
That’s why non-Christians love to throw “Judge not, that you be not judged.” back at us. It’s now the most famous Scripture passing the classic John 3.16.
When I was still pastoring I did a study on Christians and judging and here’s a passage I used:
“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.”
For some reason, Christians have decided that it is our responsibility to hold the entire world to our morality.
We cannot expect (nor should we) the world to live the way we believe and to follow Jesus as we do.
So we can’t judge them. That’s God’s responsibility.
Imagine if the Church refused to judge those who are different from us. We might start making connections with people who start to believe Christians aren’t roadblocks to Christianity but are examples of true faith.
Here’s the interesting flip side to this: that passage says we are to judge other Christians.
If I see my brother or sister living in a pattern that is destructive it is absolutely my duty to judge that and talk to them about it.
So for those Christians who are in my life they have every right (as do I) to address and discuss sin, rebellion and destructive patterns or decisions I may be making and I should do the same for them.
Just leave those outside the Church out of this.
Tomorrow on Valentine’s Day we’ll look at the second part “Jesus-loving” and how the two work together.