Posts Tagged ‘judging’

Those Darn Other People Are The Problem

January 17, 2017

Ran into a guy the other day. He was so happy that he found a church where everyone believed just exactly like he did. The pastor met the litmus test of disliking (hating?) homosexual people (except that they never add “people” to the phrase) and anti-abortion.

Mentioned something about other sins the people might have. He kind of blew that comment off.

It’s a small church, by the way.

Paul starts his journey of spiritual formation in his letter to the Romans by listing all the sins that humans commit. I always like to ask people who just read the last part of Chapter 1, “how did you feel as you read it?” Meaning, “Did you think about how bad other people are, or how much I myself sin?”

Paul assumes you’ll be answering the first way–all those darn (because I’m perfect, I don’t use vulgar language) other people. They are all such bad sinners.

Paul continues:

Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.

That’s one of those phrases I should have pop up on my smart phone every time I turn it on. Just as a constant reminder. No matter how much people disappoint me and I call them out. It still points back to me.

Those other people, why, they’re just like me. In need of grace.

Whom Are We To Judge?

July 21, 2015

1 Cor 5:12, “For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not for those inside that you are to judge?” 

We are to judge Jesus followers, not outsiders 

We should attract outsiders by how we show love within our fellowship. Hmm, how is that working for us? 

Don’t know about you, but sometimes my local fellowship strays far from this ideal. Rumors, lies, character assassinations. On the other hand, it can be a place of support, fellowship, concern, worship and prayer. 

As I wrote last week, sometimes it’s really hard to know what a “Christian” is by observing and listening.

We’ve had so many “prophets’ who build careers around exaggerated pronouncements about the society around us. Well, duh, Paul would tell us. Of course. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (OK, Paul wouldn’t know about rocket science, but give me a break) to figure out that people who are not following Jesus are also not following all of his commandments.

How to we get them to (for the most part) follow Jesus command? Well, by bringing them into discipleship with Jesus. I say “for the most part” because I wish that I could follow all of Jesus’ commands. But, he set the bar so high. OK, no excuse. Anyway, back to the argument. 

And how do we do that? Well, by showing them the good life that they could have as a disciple. 

Oh, we’re not modeling that love?

Maybe we need to look honestly into a mirror (me, too) and see where we fall short. Where did we say something to someone that was less than uplifting? Where did we not show mercy? When did we ignore a fellow human hurting?  

I’m willing to say that I’m guilty. How about you? 

That’s the first step. 

Diversity Is Good Celebrate Difference

January 19, 2015

Have you noticed how often on Facebook that there are many people who talk about being individualist and celebrate political comments of individuality, yet they are all the same? They conform to common thoughts and opinions. Pretty much dress alike, too, depending a little upon age.

I heard Dr. King speak once. He was a classmate of our campus chaplain at Ohio Northern University. Dr. Udy invited him, and he came and spoke. We were almost all white. We were almost all Republican–in an era where that was becoming a code-word for being against civil rights. But he spoke well.

And, I, too, shared that dream that all people would be accepted for their character, not for their race, gender, religion. It has been a long process. It’s been 50 years. We’re closer, but, as you can see from Facebook postings where evidently people feel free to spout off about anything, we’re still far away.

Here is yet another study that shows why you should promote diversity and legitimate sharing on your teams–whether at work, church, civic organizations. The article discussing it is called, Sensitivity, Women, Sharing: What Makes Teams Smart, by Orion Jones. This one dealt more with women, but it shares results with other earlier studies that include race and ethnic diversity along with gender.

When teams of professionals are composed of more women, share ideas in equal part, and are emotionally perceptive, they make better decisions and find better solutions to problems.

As part of an emerging science of effective teamwork, researchers at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University have been asking why some teams, like some individuals, are measurably smarter than others.

The smartest teams were distinguished by members which contributed more equally to the discussion, were better at reading complex emotional states in lab settings, and were composed of more women (possibly because women are better at identifying emotion).

I try to the best of my ability to treat all people the same. I give them a chance to prove whether I should continue to associate with them, trust them, or do business with them all on an individual basis. Let’s celebrate the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. by just quietly accepting others and quietly promoting diversity in our teams and groups.


Are Perfectionists Always Right

July 25, 2013

Some people seem to exist only in order to point out what is wrong about what everyone else does. You know these people. I hope one of them isn’t you! These are people whom you avoid at receptions. You hate to get stuck in the same room alone with them.

I was around one of those critical people the other day, and I started to think. (That’s one of my vices; I’m always thinking.) What is it that makes these people think that they are always right? Or, even, are they always right?

Even worse–am I one of those people sometimes?

I’ve listened to many during my long life. Seems to me most, if not all, fit into the category Jesus described when he said that you’re more worried about the speck of dust in your neighbor’s eye than in the plank in your own eye.

Jesus challenged people. He could see through people into what their real motivations were. He’d say things like, “Sell all your possessions and follow me.” He could see what was holding that person back from truly following him.

Where Jesus did  get critical was toward his archenemies–the Pharisees. These guys lived that life of pointing out what was wrong about everyone else. But they really tried to be perfect in their lives just as they were telling other people to be perfect.


You can’t live a perfect life. And to tell others to do that is to pile up burdens on them. And that is not the way to salvation.

Jesus was critical towards the Pharisees. He’d point out all their inconsistencies. How they were more worried about the outside of the cup than the inside. Symbolic of how they were more concerned with their outward appearance than with inner holiness.

My guess is that those critical people could use a dose of love. Leading to understanding and empathy. And worry about their own inner life. Not so much worrying about other people.

My Security Lies in Jesus

July 22, 2013

I’m still thinking about fears, worries. Although I try to capture a personal theme from the mascot of Mad magazine (I have not read it for years, but it was one of my favorites as an adolescent), Alfred E. Neuman, who said, “What!? Me worry?”

As an aside, we think American politics are bad now–good ol’ Alfred garnered several votes for President in 1968.

It is oh, so, predictable that race is part of the discussion of the whole Zimmerman affair. Conservatives seem to try to downplay race. Liberals seem to play it up. I keep returning to the words of Martin Luther King and wish we could move beyond race.

Unfortunately, we cannot. I think that this is not only an American problem.

Race remains an underlying tension. Many black men have told me about hearing car door locks being activated as they cross the street. I recently heard about a conversation at a gathering of “respectable, white, Christian” ladies where they quite frankly ascribed bad qualities to black people as an entity all the while disclaiming “I am not a racist.” Sorry, they are.

For black people, then, the issue becomes personal. Many have experienced the slights and innuendos. For most of us “white” people, the issue is theoretical. I wish it would go away, but it lingers.

Fear for your life had to be prevalent in Jesus’ time. He took as subjects for his stories things that people would readily understand. When he told the story of the Good Samaritan, there did not seem to be a reaction about the violence of the robbers. They all traveled from city to city in groups for protection. At the end of the Gospels, we learn that Peter carried a sword. Nothing is made of that simple fact–only in his use of it. I guess they needed some protection at times.

Jesus taught us that security really comes through Him and life in the Spirit.

For some reason in all our discussions in public life and private devotions, we keep losing our focus on the real source of life and security. Paul writing in Galatians further told us that if we are free in Jesus’ grace, why slip back into the old life of rules and worry.


Will Divisive Arguing Kill the Church

February 23, 2011

When I wrote the post yesterday about making statements that kill a conversation, I didn’t realize I’d contemplate this thought from the author Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What):

And on a side note, I am wondering whether the church in Europe decreased in size and impact because of loose, liberal theology, or because the church got divided and people got tired of the fighting. You never hear about that loose European theology, but you do hear a lot about bitter fights (historically, to the death) over theological squabbles. I think people just left the dinner party saying to themselves that they’d just rather find community at the pub. If the church dies in America, it wont be because of liberal theology, it will be because people don’t sense Christians actually understand or respect Jesus’ prayer in John 17. It goes without saying, then, that if they will know us by our love, they will also know we are not of God by our inability to acknowledge an individuals sovereignty.

He was talking about how so many of his friends do not attend church because they get tired of theological jabbing. The “if you don’t believe just as I believe you’re going to Hell” attitude. The people that speak up and then wonder why the energy just gets sucked out of a room.

You can’t base sociology on just a few people, but combining my study of history with comments European friends of mine have made over the years, I’ve got to agree with his comment. I know that I’ve grown tired of theological debate. It’s not about theology–it’s all about Jesus.

Oh, his prayer in John 17? He is praying for his followers as he is preparing to leave Earth. Part of the prayer goes, “And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

Thinking about sin

February 1, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about sin. Not to the point where I want to purposely try them all out, I suppose. But I wonder what you first think when you hear the word. What does it mean to you? What pictures come to mind? Is it just a “church” word? So you immediately picture a controlling person who has a strong judgmental streak in them who enjoys telling you what to do and especially what not to do?

Sin is something (action, attitude, uncontrolled emotion) that many times you think feels good and is a result of freedom. Then you discover that living that life is not really a life of freedom because now you are controlled by whatever it is that you chose–or thought you chose.

The early Christian “desert Fathers” spent a lot of time exploring this topic and several developed something akin to family lineages of emotions that would keep you away from living with God.

So, what if I didn’t use the word “sin?” If I used another word, would it have less visceral judgmental reaction and cause you to stop and take a look at your life. See what attitudes, actions, uncontrolled emotions are controlling your life and preventing a God relationship?

One thing I know–humans have continuously for thousands of years tried to draw up a list of rules for other people to follow so that they would not sin. In Jesus’ time, they were called Pharisees. We have them today. “Let’s just pass a law,” they say, “and everyone will behave–or we’ll send them away.”

Jesus said that we should just have a relationship with him. Then those things will lose their power over us. We won’t need the list of laws. We’ll do what Jesus wants because he’s walking with us.

I didn’t know where this thought would lead when I started, but ending with Jesus seems like a good thing.

Can we accept redemption?

January 10, 2011

Paul writes to the Ephesians, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.”

I am curious about this action of God. Actually, I’m more curious about how we, as humans, accept the redemption of others. Most of us probably live day-by-day not even aware that we ourselves are redeemed or forgiven by God. How many times have you sinned already today? Probably not really big ones, though. Right?

But how about the times you done some bigger bad things? Could you accept God’s forgiveness? Or, can you accept that God forgives others? I know that for some people healing from the sin of someone else takes forgiveness of the other to begin to heal.

I thought about this during the weekend when Michael Vick was about to play in an NFL football game in the playoffs. He participated in some barbarian activities using animals–he supported dog fighting. I know that this is a male diversion in many parts of the world. But we try to be more civilized here. We count that as a sin and have made it illegal.

However, Vick acknowledged his sin and spent time in jail–perhaps having to forgo a career worth perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars. But he served his time and emerged promising to turn his life around. And, so far, so good.
Many people hold Vick’s past activities against him and evidently believe that one should never be forgiven for past sins. God doesn’t feel that way–and we should all be eternally grateful for that. We are still accountable for our actions. If we but acknowledge our short comings, God is steadfast in his support of us. The least we can do is to act the same way to a fellow member of the human family.

Then we have the tragedy in Arizona. We know little about the young man who went “crazy” and started firing his automatic pistol at a crowd. But what a shame that someone, sometime ago, perhaps an older man in his life, couldn’t have provided some support. According to stories, many people were afraid of him. But, so far as we know, no one stepped in.

Maybe we should be even more watching for troubled souls who need a human to intervene and show God’s redemption so that they don’t have to take terrible action.

But this I know–I am grateful for God’s redemption, and I’m grateful when people turn their lives around for the better. Wish I could share that better.

Judge or Judge Not – God Knows

October 7, 2010

American society currently, at least the vocal part, seems to be in a rush to judgment. So many people want to sit on the Lord’s throne and make pronouncements as to the worth or salvation of everyone–well, everyone except themselves and maybe their friends. This may be true to a small extent in other societies, too.

Reading James’ pastoral letter, he warns us not to judge others. That is God’s job. Every time this verse comes up for discussion in one of my small groups, we have one guy who always speaks up and says, “I don’t agree. We have to judge others.” To which I always reply, “There’s judging and then there’s judging.”

I think James is saying, do not take upon yourself to be the final judge–the person you meet at the end of your life who either says “Welcome, good and faithful servant,” or says, “Depart from me,” and casts you into Hell. In English we can use the same word for making a decision in a legal sense and for discerning the goodness or correctness of other people.

This latter interpretation is a necessity for everyday life. You must evaluate everyone you meet with whom you may have some interaction and decide (judge) whether you should believe them or not. If someone comes to you and says “I have discovered the exact time of the end of the world,” you could apply your knowledge of the Bible where Jesus says, “No one knows the time, not even the Son.” Based on this, you would make the judgment not to believe this person.

Now my friend in the small group may border into the group of Christians with whom I have the most trouble with–those who think they have discovered the Truth through one Bible verse and proceed to sit in final judgment (or so they think) on the salvation of others. Even others whom they have never met, and so cannot even begin to look into their souls and their lives to see if they are upright and walking with God. I cannot bear that burden. I cannot be that presumptuous. I can discern others and choose whom to believe and whom to befriend. But I’m content to let God do His work in that regard. The only thing I can do is use my talents to show Him to others. That’s probably the best attitude for you, too.