I wonder how many times a day I make judgements about people? I would like to say that it is not many but it is… It is however far fewer than it was a few years ago.
These judgements are what cause a huge amount of the world’s problems.
It doesn’t matter if it is the refugee crisis in the Middle East, or the questionable house next door. The answer is the same. Judgement is the problem.
Here is what I mean by—judgement is the problem. Judgement of others and situations going on around us, is the key to safety and health in a community. Judgements have to be made in each moment of our day, to help us to know what to do and what not to do. Uninformed judgements however, are the way that bigotry, wars, racism and many other horrible things have happened throughout history.
Here is an example.
I pull up into a neighborhood and see 2 houses. One house is well kept and maintained while the other is falling apart.
From the outward appearance, my judgement would be that the person in the well-kept house is the more trustworthy, healthier and better person. The person in the falling apart home is going to be judged as the unfit, poor, welfare-minded person. As easy as it is to make rash uninformed judgements, it is also very dangerous. Here is why.
The person with the well-kept home is stealing from his work, cheating on his taxes, while his family is falling apart and they are trying to keep up the appearance that everything is okay. However, next door the 75 year old woman, who is raising her 2 grandchildren on her pension and social security doesn’t have the extra money or time to put into a house. She is pouring all her resources into what matters to her which is the future of her grandkids.
The key to both of these stories, and life in general is always relationships. When people get involved in each other’s lives we have the ability to make informed judgements, instead of what are really opinions, based on appearances. Relationships and the informed judgements that result should move Christians to actions of love, through our compassion for those around us.
As a part of the Church I have to be a part of my community. I have to be a part of my neighborhood and I have to be involved in the lives of those around me. I have to be an agent of change for the Kingdom of God. But, to do that effectively I have to make informed judgements.
The key to doing this the way Jesus did is not to look at the outside. The outside is very deceptive. It is the heart that matters. It is the person that matters. It is who they really are that matters. We should not be afraid to confront evil and wrong doing when it is happening. In fact Christians should be the first to sound the alarm and be helping to rid our world of darkness. But, we should also not be deciding that something is wrong until we find out. This is where it gets hard. To be informed will require putting down fear, putting down preconceived judgements, putting down what we perceive and trusting God more.
Fear is the number 1 thing that skews judgement. Fear blinds me to what is good and keeps me from what God has for me because, I am often afraid to trust Him.
Fear causes me to become selfish, narrow-minded, hateful, proud, and every other thing that we see too often happening today. When the world sees the church respond to something, instead of being light we often come across with more darkness and a defeated and fearful attitude. We spread more fear instead of faith.
If even a portion of the people that attend church each week were really involved in the community, America would be a very different place. If we showed the world how to rightly judge we would see less crime, more care of those that need it and definitely more involvement in people’s lives.
Suicide rates would plummet; anti-depressant prescriptions would become less prevalent. Those people with darkness in their lives would be forced to make a choice. By being exposed to the light, they can continue down the path they are walking or walk where Jesus leads. The world would be a much different place.
The Church was given the role, by God, as the care giver, social services department, moral role model and life coach to a fallen world. The problem is that too many have relegated that role to a few people who are clergy or called to this type of work. The problem with this thinking is that to be a Christian (Christ-Like) I must choose to live a life like Christ.
To be a part of the Church I must take on certain responsibilities that come with knowing and allowing Jesus to be my Savior. First of all, I must become less, so He can become more through me. Therefore I have to learn to judge as He did. I have to learn to look through the lenses of His eyes, and not my own. I have to learn to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me, and then discern what is good and what darkness is by what His standards are, and not just by what my senses and feelings tell me.
Jesus walked with many people, which at the time would have been considered the riffraff of the day. Many of the same people that today are written off by the world as “untouchable”. The sick, the poor, the beggars, along with those Jesus also was known to hang out with the prostitutes and the tax collectors. These people were thieves who stole from their own community as in Zacchaeus and people who were bound up in all kinds of sin of their own making as with Mary Magdalene. Jesus touched those that were unclean and considered throw away people in His day.
The way that Jesus approached this was not to hang out with people and allow their sin to overcome His life or community. But, instead He trusted that God, through His interactions with the people His Father put before Him, would be overcome by the light of the Kingdom. They would become the voice in the wilderness who spoke of the light. They were the ones who let the light shine before men so that His Father would be glorified. See I know this story well.
I know this is true because I have seen what has happened in my own life, and countless people around me. I have seen what happens when a pour wretched sinner finds grace. I know what happens to a heart that turns from darkness to light, and I have witnessed what Jesus Christ can do with a former hate-filled, narrow minded bigot. I have realized the power of love and also experienced the hurt that living a life of love often brings.
Every time someone turns away from the light. Every time someone chooses to walk back into their sin. Every time someone says some nasty thing about me, because of how I do things and how I choose to follow God.
However, I have also learned that judging those people without knowing the back story and knowing what is going on in their life right now, is no different than the way others judge.
I am choosing to live a new way. I am choosing love first. I am choosing faith first and telling fear that there is no place in my life, because I am choosing to walk in the light of God’s perfect love. This choice is going to make life interesting, because it breaks down all of the barriers that keep us separated. It crushes the fears that keep me from believing that even a guy, like who I was, can become a new creation in Christ Jesus.
So, the question for you is what kind of membership do you want to have in the Church? The kind that will fade away, or the kind that is eternally bestowed on Jesus’ Good and Faithful Servants?