Do we really consider what that means? I know plenty of people that say “I love Jesus” but don’t seem to exhibit a life that would say so. I myself love Jesus and do the best I can to “abide in Him,” but am I really that good at it?
Nope. Do you see why? Just a couple of sentences back I made a snap judgment of others when I said they “don’t exhibit a life that would say” that they love Jesus.
Do you see how hard it is to avoid casting judgment on somebody else? Do you see how hard it is to mirror that characteristic of Christ? Do you see how hard it is to follow the instruction to “Judge not?”
Last night I began reading the book “Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgment” by Hugh Halter. I only read the introduction and the first chapter, but man, it gave me a lot to think about. Halter brings up this verse from 1 John and then goes on to talk about all the judgments he had made on various people on the day he was writing those words. The section where he does this was appropriately titled: “Your Author is a Pharisee.”
So as I was reading this late last night (waiting for the cold meds to kick in and my computer to finish a virus scan) I took a few minutes and thought about the day I was finishing up and what judgments I had cast on people during my waking hours. The results were….not good. In fact, they were pretty UGLY.
Holy crap. I’m a Pharisee too!
Here’s a small sampling of my judgmental day:
“She called into work AGAIN? Get a grip and deal with your sniffles.”
“This political candidate is an absolute moron and will destroy our country.”
“That new soccer logo is ugly and whoever designed it must be legally blind.”
“Our coach said we were going to sign a new player, and we haven’t. Freakin’ idiot!”
“It’s not THAT HARD to operate a smartphone. Jeez.” (Sorry, Mom.)
“Those kids across the street are minions of Satan from the deepest level of Hell.”
“Their parents are total idiots.”
“This store employee has no clue what she’s talking about.”
“That person drives like they got their license out of a Cracker Jack box.”
“This store employee is stupid and totally unhelpful.”
“Listen to ME next time and we can avoid a situation like this.”
“How can you be a professional soccer player and give up 4 goals in one match?”
I like to think I’m a pretty good, nonjudgmental kind of guy. I’m not a racist, I’m not a homophobe, I generally think I’m pretty tolerant of other people’s religious beliefs, you know all those nice “good guy hallmarks” I know I can be somewhat irritable, but come on, who isn’t, right?
The disturbing thing was the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those judgments I made yesterday weren’t the exception, they were the rule. I mean, that first thing on that list crossed my brain before I had even gotten out of bed.
As Halter suggested in the book, maybe I should join Pharisees Anonymous. It seems like, even for me, it’s one thing to proclaim The Way of Christ with my lips, but another thing to actually follow in his footsteps. It’s really hard, and it makes me wonder about people who suggest that the Christian life is an easy one (d’oh, another judgment!)
I get so wrapped in judging other people for their judgments, that I forget the very judgments I have rendered myself. The truth is, that’s not my job. That’s not what Jesus asks me to do. He asks me to just follow him and exhibit the same love and grace that he did. The judgment thing? That’s his job, and he’s the only one who’s really qualified.
As Halter talks about in the first chapter, in the Genesis story, we humans decide to take that job upon ourselves when Adam and Eve decide to partake of the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Whether you read that story literally or not, our history as a people is strewn with people exercising that “knowledge” and getting it wrong a lot of the time, maybe more often than not. In the worst case scenarios people are killed and blood is shed as we turn the art of judgment into a train wreck.
And as I realized last night, that train wreck continues unabated in my life. I thought of times that I have wronged others versus the times I’ve felt like I have been wronged. There’s plenty of both of the those occasions if I’m honest with you, but as Halter points out, we almost always desire mercy for ourselves and strict judgment for others, and that’s totally incongruent.
But the good news is that ultimately we do get mercy, not what we deserve. No, really, that’s literally part of the good news that is the “Gospel.” With Christ’s death and his Way set before us we realize that we can lay down the job of judge both for ourselves and others. We realize that the role of the disciple is one of mirroring grace and love, which when genuinely given, is pretty hard to screw up, unlike judgment which we often screw up.
Wouldn’t it be cool if more and more of us in the world “Got that?”
Wouldn’t it be cool if the perception of Christians turned from “self-righteous, judgmental, a-holes” to “people of love, grace, and reconciliation?”
I think it would!
So there it is. It’s time to get busy trying to curb my own judgmental attitude. I hope you’ll pray for me, and maybe even think of the judgments you might make of others.
Whew! All that from the intro and one chapter! I can’t wait to see the rest of what Halter has to say!