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Monday, March 18, 2013

Does Everyone Judge Everyone?

I just read a book which stereotypically depicts Christians as people who are condemning the world because it does not believe as Christians do. The Christian in the book asks if someone who had died was saved. The friends of the deceased throw the Christian out because she states that the deceased is condemned if not saved. The heroes of the story who throw out the Christian get angry with the "holier than thou" attitude of the Christian.

The writer of the story doesn't realize that the heroes were playing "holier than thou" as much as the Christian. You see, they were condemning the Christian for saying what she believed and threw the Christian out because of what they believed. They deemed their belief to be better than that of the Christian. They were thinking that their belief was holier than that of the Christian's.

This happens all the time. The people with the bumper stickers which say "COEXIST" think that anyone who makes an exclusive statement should be condemned. For example, I believe that we should love all people of all faiths and all lifestyles. I do not believe that everyone's value system or faith is just as true. In fact, I know that they are exclusive of each other. The ones with these bumper stickers are intolerant of me for saying that Muslims or Hindus need to come to know Christ. They have violated their own bumper stickers because they don't want to coexist with those who do not accept all beliefs. They think that their own "coexist-ism" trumps my belief. They are not actually coexisting like they think I should coexist.

 Evidently each person tries to find a way to justify the way he or she is living. Each person looks for a group of people who will confirm that belief. Therefore, the value system will not allow those who challenge a contrary belief to stand unchallenged. For example, I think that slavery is abhorrent. Let's say that  someone who espoused slavery as good moved next to me. I believe that it would be natural for me to condemn him. I would magnify every flaw I discovered in my natural self.

Now this is the key: As a believer I must be more than my natural self. I must not condemn others even when I don't believe as they believe. That does not mean that I don't know that they are condemned. It means that I am not the one to pronounce condemnation.

I do lots of funerals. Sometimes the local funeral homes call me to do funerals for people who have no church. Sometimes families give me no indication that the deceased have been saved. It is not my place to determine if the deceased are in heaven. I can't do anything for them anyway. So, I preach a gospel story for those who have come to the funeral. I tell how those who come to know Christ will never die. I never tell the families whether or not those who have passed away or in heaven or hell. I really don't know.

Jesus told us not to judge others. He did so just before He told us how we needed to get the log our of our own eyes before we got the speck out of the eyes of others. He wanted us to see our own sinfulness before we addressed the sinfulness of others. Those who have come to know Jesus should be the ones who know this better than anyone else. Those who know Him should never stand over those who sin with a triumphant smirk. How will we ever stand our own judgment if this has been our attitude toward others.

Christians should not be surprised that others do not act in this way. They want our conversions (just as we want theirs) or they want to stand over us triumphantly because they are right and we are wrong. Of course, they won't see it that way. They'll think that their system of belief is better than ours.

Doesn't that give them the right to judge us thus? (I hope you know the answer to this.)

Matthew 7:1-2 (ESV)
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 


Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of the following passage from Titus. It is a passage I have to call to my mind regularly...very regularly.
Remind everyone... to be obedient,
to be ready to do whatever is good,
to slander no one,to be peaceable and considerate,and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient,deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.

Titus 3:1-5, abridged

Anonymous said...

Sensitivity is always a virtue that most of us lack. While we need to exercise discretion and be sensitive, like when someone has passed away, or someone is stricken with a terminal sickness, etc, we still must bear in mind, that at the appropriate times, we are to share about our faith. Central to our faith is the belief that if one has not embraced Jesus as the Lord and Saviour, he or she remains condemned.  We should not necessarily make apology for the reason for our faith. I often say, it breaks God's heart if we are nonchalant about going to Heaven.  If we truly love our God, we should want to get to where God is, Heaven.  Our faith is about going to Heaven; make no mistake that our faith is not for this life alone.  If it were so, there is no need to persevere to the end.  Sure, we cannot impose our faith or belief onto another, but we must NOT stop reminding ourselves that staying the course is the goal of our life. It is our recognition of how important this is, that we want others to know that they too, should come off the condemnation, and be re-routed to Heaven.

Scripture is very clear that it is not that Jesus came to condemn, like if you do not accept Jesus as the Lord and Saviour, you become condemned; it is you are already condemned, and to be un-condemned, you need Jesus.  We should not need to package the Gospel in any way, but to simply say what it is.  In it's simplest form, the Gospel is that we are already condemned, destined to Hell fire, and the Holy and loving God has provided a way (the only way) out of that condemnation. How can one truly be a child of God when the Gospel is explained to him as something else, like it is a way of life, for example. I am not saying it is not a way of life, but it is not just a way of life.  When we present it as just a way of life, it is optional, and it can be changed and modified or customized to suit oneself, like when it is advantageous, i will live it out, if it is not, I will not; if it is convenient, I will live it out, if it is not, I will not.

Christianity is about God, and by that, it is not about expediency of men, but it is about what God says and wants; or in theological term, it is theocentric.  When people believe in a different god, it is this theocentric stuff that separate.  When you and I are theocentric, but are with a different god, we are bound to have differences.  It is not a matter of I judge you of myself, it is I do not judge, of myself, at all!  The apostle Paul said, he did not even judge himself!  What did he mean by that? He meant that to judge himself is to judge the Spirit of God, for he was so given to the leading of the Spirit of God, that he cannot question even himself!  Self-pride is a thing that is not easy to assess and overcome.  According to Paul the reference point is not to think too highly of oneself than one should.  Yet, until you and I are arrived, Paul suggested that we examine ourselves.  So, for self, I have to examine myself against the Word, and against what I believe the Spirit is saying to me. As for others, I have to discern all the time, what I am going to do with all the vibes, ideas, notions, actions, etc, that others are throwing out, so as to guard my heart and mind, so that I take captive every thought of mine to make it obedient to Christ Jesus (2 Cor 10:5).  In other words, concerning others, I judge all the time, but not to condemn others, not to inflict others, and not to exasperate others, but to protect my own heart and mind, to take greater good into view, and to consider standing up for  justice and righteousness according to God's prescriptions.  We have to judge all the time, because we are still in the world, although we are no longer of the world. 


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

We co-exist with others, it is inevitable because we are still in the world.  We co-exist but we are not to be unequally yoked.  We co-exist but we have to live out our life according to the ways prescribed by God for His Kingdom on earth.  I live in a flat in Singapore, and my immediate neighbor is a family of mediums.  We co-exist despite when my neighbor practice their "crafts", they were a nuisance, and even hazardous.  Once, my neighbour's flat even caught fire! One can even get heart attacks from the sudden cracks of whip, and the knocks on the floor! I don't know how I would cope if I have babies in the house!  The neighbour's house is turned into a temple while they lived in it, and throng of people would come, and all kind of people come, some smoking and would throw the cigarette butts in front of my flat door or corridor. We still co-exist, we still greet each other, while sharing common corridor!  Sometimes, we just have to stay calm, and pray to the Lord, when it is not appropriate for us to go offensive.  I don't pray enough, I must pray more.  We must pray more.

I am not promoting believers to judge others, in the sense of condemning people, but I do want to encourage Christians to judge what is going on or about to happen, and to make a difference.  When we don't, we have only ourselves to blame, when others shape the living spaces of ours according to their whims and fancy, not to mention, unrighteous intent.  When it is time to speak out, Christians should speak out, and not hide under "we should not judge". 

Anthony Chia, high.expressions