Sunday, May 8, 2011

Judge Not

A Judge Reading a Book with a Gavel - Royalty Free Clipart Picture
I've had an interesting last few weeks.  I've started a new job and I really love  almost all of the people that I work with.  They have made me feel so welcome and at home.  I don't know that I've ever moved to a new place that made me feel so loved.  I'm so glad that I've landed in such a wonderful community.  Almost everyone has made me feel this way.  I don't know if this is unique, or just part of living in a community that sees quite a few tourists every year.  Whatever it is, I'm glad I'm here!

On the down side, I've begun working with a couple of people that are making life interesting, to say the least.  I don't know whether it's the profession we work in or whether they have just appointed themselves judge and jury because they can, but these people have taken it upon themselves to decide how everyone else should live their lives.  And when it doesn't meet their expectations, they bash the unwary folks over the head with their words and actions. 

These are two Christian people.  They preach the gospel to anyone who will listen and they have decided that it is their mission in life to force everyone to live by their interpretation of the Bible.  I have heard them tell their children that it is NOT permissible for them to play with 'those' kids.  I have watched them handpick members of the community that they will work with, because the others just wouldn't do.  I have watched them send letters to people and verbally assault these people who have been offended and hurt them beyond measure.

These folks and I have had a few conversations about 'sharing' the words of Christ and the Bible.  I have shared my view of how to I think this should be done:  I believe you must have a relationship with people so that when you try to share God's word, you can be an effective witness.  I don't believe that you can walk up to just anyone, regardless of how long you've been acquainted, and verbally beat them over the head with God's word.  If you don't have this deep relationship, the words will bounce right off and anything you may have been able to help them with, is no longer possible.

Why is it that in today's world, we have so many people hurting so many others  in the name of God?  I remember many years ago when I started working as a Christian education director at a large metropolitan church.  I had never been a paid employee at a church before.  My work had always been as a volunteer so this was all new to me.  I remember my uncle sitting down with me and telling me that I needed to beware.  "You've never been screwed until you've been screwed by a Christian," he said.  Boy, was he ever right! 

I've read all the way through the Bible many times, and I've studied it since I was in college.  I don't know anywhere that Jesus refused to meet with anyone; in fact, I believe he was put down precisely because he ate with the less than prominent people.  He chastised folks around him but he always loved -- everyone!  His heart was open to all and he never turned his back on anyone who needed him.  Isn't his death on the cross an indication to all of us that we are to spend our lives reaching out to others in love?

I believe that the folks who are perpetrating this mean and vicious behavior on unsuspecting 'friends' would tell you that they are doing this for exactly this reason.  I don't see any love in their actions.  I see judgement and condemnation.  I hear, "You live life the way I think you should live it or it's wrong."  I see no compassion or understanding that we are all failures at loving each other all the time.  I only see judgement.  I only see public stoning.  Wasn't it Jesus who said, "Let ye without sin, cast the first stone?" 

What is it about our culture today that has created so many judges?  When did we become God to sit in judgement of our friends and family?  I hear so many people now days proclaiming others in the wrong.  My question is and has been for many, many years:  is it wrong or is it just different from what I would do?  When did doing things differently make them wrong?  I thought we were a country based on the principle of everyone having the opportunity to live their own Godly life. 

I don't watch much television anymore.  The news shows are less about the news and more about their opinions of the news.  I don't need their opinion; I can form my own, thank you.  Radio talk shows are the same.  I don't listen to those much either.  It seems that everyone has an opinion and by gosh, you'd better agree with me because, we all know, that I'm right! 

What are we teaching our children when we behave this way?  If we can't tolerate each other and allow each other to be human, how will our children ever learn tolerance and cooperation?  What will the future of the world look like if we can't find the love in our hearts for each other?  Jesus' commandment was to love each other.  Certainly there are times when we must say something to the people we love when we are fearful for them and their actions.  But those words are tempered by our deep relationship with those people and the understanding that they will find the meaning behind our words...and the love.

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