I have never researched this issue well, reading this article and watching this video makes you realize: how polarizing this issue is, how disconnected the American experience is from the reality of those in the middle of the conflict, and how much prayer and attention needs to be given to this issue.
Both sides believe they are right and the other is wrong, and they have been killing each other over it for generations . I will be praying, hope you will too.
it’s a popular verse. It’s argued about regularly. Popular culture likes to quote it in defense of the post modern ideology that states that there are “no absolutes”, that no one person can judge what is best for another person.
Christians like to counter point this verse with other verses, ones that encourage us to indeed judge others for a host of different reasons:
“Christ is coming for a spotless bride! we have to make ourselves right before He comes back. Therefore, we must become good judges of right and wrong.”
“We have to make judgements because we must stand for truth.”
“Blah, blah, blah, wah, wah wah.”
Whatever your argument is, I applaud your strong feelings and your passion. But, it is my hope to encourage you into a new way of thinking. Thinking about what this popular verse actually states.
Matthew 7:1-3King James Version (KJV)
7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Notice the bolded section. Christ is not giving us a singular statement that He is demanding our behaviors adhere to, instead He is inviting us into a way of thinking that involves inquiry. Yes, perhaps he is even asking us to be interested in discovering something about ourselves and another person, rather than memorizing rules or theology and acquiring the ability to unleash well thought out verbal assaults at will.
Christ is asking us to think about how we would like to be judged, possibly suggesting to the Christian to think about how “The one whom God sent” has judged them, how He is judging them, and then asking us to gather/receive the maturity and wisdom to discern what is best for certain situations, and certain people.
Even more, perhaps He is foreshadowing the presence of the “advocate” or “Holy Spirt” to come, asking us to learn to consult the Spirit of God in our walk, always remembering to walk in patience, love, grace, and mercy in our judging because that indeed is what the Lord has always shown us, and continues to show us on a daily basis.
This is a difficult idea to receive, it sounds nice when it hits our ears but becomes difficult in practice. Our modern world is short on patience, short on community, and short on creating the space in our lives to truly be able to hear from the Lord’s Spirit in our lives.
Indeed, this asks something of us. It demands we stop and reflect on what it is Jesus has done for us, what we need forgiveness for, how we need to continue to grow. It also demands that in growing our identity and knowledge of Christ we then apply it to our outward relationships within our community.
Yes, to judge with the understanding that the same judgement shall be given to us humbles a person, and as this truth sinks in hopefully it makes us more aware of how we have been un-merciful or un-loving in our own lives.
For me it sparks a host of thoughts, feelings, and memories in my mind of how I need to learn how to become a better forgiver, a better friend, brother, son, and so fourth. But, that alone isn’t what I believe Christ wants from us. It is indeed a deeper understanding that Christ’s love is not what I deserve but what I receive because He says so. His authority in my life allows me to have a peace over the truth that though there seems to be injustice all around me, in the end Christ will judge us all perfectly.
It is my job to love as Christ has loved me. To judge as I have been judged. I have a model, and a benchmark. That benchmark is patient, kind, suffers for me, and always loves me. In the same way, I hope to learn and grow in what this mystery means for me and those around me each day. This mystery is encouraging in that it gives us something to engage with, and therefore to hope for.
This verses is transformative in that it reminds us that Jesus is not static, therefore truth and love are not static, they are engaging persons, not forgone conclusions.
So judge on my friends, but I pray we learn to become people who are judging ourselves and those around us more and more like Christ has judged and loved us.
There is this problem of pain within me, this issue of darkness, this struggle with hope, this desire to help, but also an understanding that I mostly just cuss things up. A self hatred, and a desire to be treasured. I want to be useful, but believe my efforts are pointless.
The struggle to hope and believe I have something to offer from within myself, but not on someone else’s terms. Not “people pleasing” my way to the top and manipulating a system to get power and influence. Instead, a usefulness that I want to find within my weakness, my darkness.
I am dark, I am questions, I am faults, I am weak.
When I see that in others, I marvel at the beauty.
When I see that in myself, I condemn and hate.
Why this contradiction? Why is it easier to look outside myself?
Aye! Then I see it, my hatred of self pollutes my love! I value you others because I see you as better then my lowly self! Even in my humility I find the lacing of pride, of believing myself greater and more powerful then the divine love offered me.
But then I also look at those around me and judge them in the next breath?
What a contradiction, what a prideful beast I am!
But then with gentleness and grace a voice says, “rest son. Stop the struggle, just for a moment. You are wired wonderfully, but the knowledge of “Good and Evil” and the balance of its power will crush you. Do what I’ve called you too, love. The weight of your mind and the gears I’ve built to turn in it will constantly make you aware of your weakness, but I don’t need strong hands, just willing hands.”
I look at my hands and speak to them. “Being willing you tools of hope and destruction. Be willing, be willing, be willing….”
It’s occurring to me more and more that my language and actions are not in harmony with what I say and think I believe. More importantly the knowledge I have of God doesn’t match up with my behavior in light of said knowledge. All that to say if I were to use Plato’s “Tripartite” soul as a way of explaining who I am, I wouldn’t be someone who is led by their rational desires, instead I would be an unhealthy mix of mostly appetitve, with some spirited added in once in awhile, and the rational only coming out in my language and not my action, and certainly not in my thought life.
Like Paul what I want to love isn’t what I love, and what I want to do isn’t what I do. I spend a lot of time lost in making sure people think what I am doing is right. Or, if I should be doing what I am doing. A lot of that has to come from the fact that I am the youngest in my family, and since I was a little kid I did a lot of following and listening to my brothers. I have always felt a lot of pressure to do what my brothers, my parents, and my close friends think I should.
I am also way more influenced by how people respond to me than I am comfortable admitting in most moments. I mean, this is most likely obvious to all of my friends and family, but to me it’s something I’ve tried really hard to hide. If I do something on my own, like release a song, or do a show, or share a thought, and I get no response it can sometimes crush me.
All that to say, I am learning to admit I am insanely human. But the coolest thing really is this realization that God is o.k. when me being insanely human. In fact that’s how God made me. I am not expected to get it right, I am just expected to chase God. God just wants me to change my approach. Move from the pursuit of others, other loves, other distractions and run to Him. Not as a temporary fix, or as something to get me by until I get married, or get that dream job I want, or finally get that recognition I wanted. God wants me to pursue Him, trust Him, and believe that He is all I need. And lemme tell you, that sucks. It means growing up in ways I never thought I could. It also means frustrating a lot of people around me, and making mistakes. But it’s all in the journey.
I would like to think I am a fair, honest, rational, person. In fact I am realizing I take a lot of pride in my ability to read people, to know human nature and predict what people will do, or what people are thinking. I do it all the time, and it sucks to admit but I really don’t think much of the people around me. I’ve allowed the predictability of human nature to limit the possibility of God doing amazing things in peoples lives.
I mean all you have to do is look at the research, behavioral scientist and researchers know a lot about how our minds work, how we emotionally work, etc… It’s easy to box people into their behavior and say “that person is this, they will never change.” However, although that makes life easier to take, and places us in a safe place of being in the “right” that’s not the stance Jesus takes.
Jesus says at my best I am not a “just” person. In fact if I am honest with myself I will admit that for ever fault I find in someone else I am guilty of the same. I am not a disciplined person by any means. I lack any ability to guide myself consistently to anything but the appetitive aspects of my personality. I am in fact ruled not by the direction of my so-called “Savior” but instead by the desire of what I believe in the next moment to be the thing that will save me from discomfort.
My assumptions of justice only magnify my need for Jesus’ justice, love, and reconciliation in my own life.
Sure I can blame others for the hurt I have caused, and the hurt that has been inflicted upon me. But the truth is we have all been wronged, and in fact my life in comparison with most people is pretty light on the “deeply wounding” scale. But that’s the thing we all fail to think of, how the less hurt we feel the bigger a small thing will wound us. We always fail to see others perspectives and choose instead to judge from our limited view.
Rather than choosing to believe something and live it out, we blame others for making it harder for us. Instead of going to Christ first, and immersing ourselves in His truth and love, we read some verses, talk about God, and ignore the parts about how we weren’t built to be the thing that satisfies each other fully, and expect the people around us to be perfect because they claim allegiance to Christ. That’s bullshit, in fact its the opposite of what Jesus says. If we are followers of Christ the biggest thing we need to fight against is the pharisee mentality of taking pride in knowledge that isn’t ours to begin with. We didn’t discover Christ, Christ discovered us, and therefore we are not owners of truth, but recipients of a great gift we have no business receiving.
rather than using the knowledge of Christ as something we take pride in, it should be something that ignites insane thankfulness and humility. But modern and ancient theologies and philosophies that were started with good intent have led us down roads that have led us away from the heart of Jesus.
I have a lot more to write, I’ll get to more of it soon… that’s where my head is right now though.