I’ve been told that it is easy for young people to be in my presence because I simply accept them for who they are without judgement. Where ever we have ministered, be it with young adults, youth or kids, my wife and I have always tried to find common ground from which to begin our relationship. Then we always sought to minister first and foremost on the love of God… thereby establishing His common ground with each of the members of the group.
I think that is one of the reasons that I am so sensitive to people who tend to quickly respond to another individuals difference of opinion, or course of action with judgement and/or criticism. I’m sure that it is also because there is still a part of me that is smarting a bit from the few who vehemently responded to me in the decisions I made concerning the care of my wife when we began the journey we are now traversing.
This came to mind yesterday as I was reading in Colossians about the acts of God’s grace toward us. In chapter two verses 13-14 Paul comments how “God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures. He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross.” (God’s Word ©) So, if I understand Paul’s point, it would seem that through God’s grace, we have been forgiven of our failures.
Then why, I continually find myself asking, do some Christians feel like it is their right or responsibility to be the first to judge or criticize a brother or sister's beliefs or actions if they differ from what they believe or the course of action they would choose to follow? After a little bit of study in the Word and prayer on the matter, I began to think that maybe these particular folks have somehow come up with a personal translation of the Christian life that is a mixture of grace and the law.
This is a little confusing to me as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:17 that He came to fulfill the law. So we do we still try to incorporate it in our belief system? Jesus said the most important ideal to follow was love. Wouldn’t it make sense then for us to love others first and not judge them… just like the example that Jesus set during the three years of His ministry on the earth?
This explanation would explain why I would be both frustrated and confused when mature Christians responded in judgement without understanding the reasoning’s behind our steps. In discussing the Law, one of my commentaries stated that “The law was certainly against us, because it was impossible for us to meet its holy demands,”* and that Jesus was the ONLY one who was able to meet the requirements and set us free from those demands. In my case, these individual’s reactions did little (read that ZERO!) to make me feel loved, warm and cozy, but instead led me to be upset and under great condemnation.
I see this type of interaction going on in our current Presidential race. It seems like criticism and judgement is a normal part of the process. But I am not too sure that this is part of the normal process for us Christians to be following in our daily lives! What do you think? Is it our job to point out what we may consider failures in other people’s lives or should we love them, pray for them and thereby allow God to work in the situation?
I think I know what Jesus would say and do… How about you? Have a terrific Holiday weekend (at least here in the USA!). But no matter where you live, you can still have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What response am I expecting to make to others today?”
*Be Complete, A Commentary on Colossians, Dr. Warren Wiesbe, Chapter six