When I was a sophomore in college my rebellious streak began to show itself. (It was always there, just carefully hidden.) I went home at Christmas break and told my mother I’d decided I was a Democrat; she burst into tears. You think I’m kidding? I’m not sure how long the tear-fest and lecturing lasted, but that was the first time I realized that apparently God didn’t like Democrats. I’m not sure if my mother still holds the same beliefs, I never worked up the nerve to mention politics again in her presence. I was rather surprised upon meeting my mother-in-law to find that not only is God not a Republican, but apparently he actually likes Democrats better. I don’t discuss politics with her either, or with anyone else in the family. I could probably discuss it with my father-in-law; I think he and my husband are the only ones who have figured out that heaven isn’t staked out with campaign signs.
The issue here isn’t really politics though, I’m not telling you where I actually fall on the spectrum today and I don’t care where you are. I do believe that we have a serious issue in the church with people setting themselves up as judge and jury over those who think or act differently. It happens in every area of our lives, and it happens so insidiously sometimes that we don’t even realize we’ve condemned someone.
Take a stroll around some of the areas of the internet populated by Christians, especially around election time, and see how the accusations start flying. Overt, subtle, it doesn’t matter. In the battle to claim our ground in the kingdom it’s take no prisoners time. “How can you believe in candidate X? Don’t you know he supports/opposes xyz? I don’t see how a real Christian could support that!” (Oh, the word real isn’t usually used, but it is often implied.) “Well, candidate Y believes THIS! How could a Christian support HIM?”
It is so rare to see a civil discussion of politics when people feel their religious views are at stake. I can’t help but think that the rest of the world is watching and feeling as turned off as I am. They will know we are Christians by our…love? The campaign sticker on our car?
It spills over into other areas of our lives as well. We pick up some scriptures and decide how a real Christian ought to behave. Parenting. Finances. Clothing. Entertainment. We pick our causes, we appoint ourselves judge and jury and we start casting blame and pointing fingers.
People, we are all human. We are all in need of grace. When we appoint ourselves as judge, aren’t we really setting ourselves up in the place God belongs? He was pretty specific about not judging others.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society®
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
With the measure you use it will be measured to you. How many times have you found yourself on the opposite side of that measure? You’ve judged someone, but when they turn around and judge you in reverse you think “How dare they?”
The desire to judge is one of the most destructive and never-ending cycles in the church. After all, here I am, sitting here judging the judgers. I get impatient when I see Christians judging in whatever manner that may be, and in my impatience…you guessed it, I start to judge! “Well, clearly they don’t know what the Bible says about judging…” oops, and there I go.
How do we break the cycle, whatever it may be that we are judging people on? Maybe it isn’t their Christian walk, maybe it’s a parenting choice, maybe it’s the type of car they drive, the size of house they live in.
Grace, grace, and more grace. Recognizing the incredible grace that God has heaped upon us and in turn heaping that on others. It doesn’t MATTER if you are right. I promise you, God is always more right than you are and yet he extended grace to you. If you can’t extend grace, pray until you can.
The world isn’t going to understand the transforming power of grace until they see a little transforming grace start to move amongst those of us who are called by Christ’s name.
Grace, flowing freely. Grace, unselfishly given. Grace, unbound.