If you ask those outside of the Church what they think of Christians, one of the most common responses is that they find us to be too judgmental. Many of us within the Church are able to admit that we have a history of being overly judgmental. Since when did we become the judge?
Are we capable judges? Consider our history:
We have stoned people for not following petty laws, burned people at the stake for having minor differences of belief, defrocked ministers for having doubts and questions, we have tweeted “Farewell!” to those who disagree with us, and we have been quick to label some as heretics and even condemn them to hell. We have over 30,000 denominations because we cannot agree on the most minorof theological issues. We have split hairs over the most ridiculous differences of opinion.
Here is why I think we are incapable judges:
We do not have all of the pieces to the puzzle. We often judge by outward appearances. We have convicted the innocent, even using the death penalty because we were so sure of their guilt, yet they were found innocent later. Sometimes it was too late.
I believe that the human is like a puzzle and there are many pieces; we are the most complex of puzzles! When we judge others, it is as if we have our eyes up close to this giant puzzle with missing pieces. The picture is incomplete and we are nearsighted; the image is fuzzy. Yet, without seeing the complete picture, we make bold and harsh judgements against people.
I am convinced that God is the only one capable of judgement because He knows and sees all. He sees what is within us and knows all of our weaknesses and how and why they developed. Even with missing pieces, He can stand back and see the picture of who we are. I am confident that He will be the one to righteously judge each heart with grace and mercy. I believe He is able to draw out, redeem, and refine the good that is within each soul. We do not see all that is redeemable within a person, and if we do, we often lack the patience to work with it because they may not keep up with our expectations. God is patient.
Let’s consider the story of the woman at the well. She was a woman…strike one. She was a Samaritan…strike two. She had been married five times and was living with a man that she was not even married to…strike three. According to the Jewish community, she had struck out! She should not be communicated with; no Jew should come near her for risk of becoming unclean. If she had been a Jew, she would have been stoned a long time before that day when she encountered the God of love at that well. Even though this Samaritan woman was far from perfect, Jesus sat next to and spoke with her. He had all of the pieces to the puzzle and saw a picture that was still beautiful- a life that was worth redeeming.
I believe that the story of the Church should look more like the Parable of the Banquet, found in Luke 14:15-24. We should be a people who know God’s mercy and grace and be quick and eager to share it. I am convinced that the task of Kingdom People is to be an inviter of all. We are to invite all to share in the banquet…even more…the sick, the marginalized, and those who have been judged as “unworthy” by society (and sadly, even the Church). We should be inclusive of all, so that they too may experience this God of love. This is a most beautiful story. This is how it should be!
So, since we we are incapable judges, let’s love all and let the Capable Judge, who sees the complete picture, righteously judge each soul.
And Jesus had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
-John 4: 4-30 (ESV)
ROBERT LOFGREN is a gay Christian who wrestled with his faith and his sexuality and found peace. He strives to love Christ and to show His love for all people. Robert is an advocate for LGBT rights and building bridges between the two communities to which he belongs and is so passionate about — the LGBT community and the Church.
He lives in Orange County, CA with his boyfriend of seven years and two Boston Terriers. Robert blogs at The Gay Post-Evangelical.