There are two primary strategies employed by self-righteous, religious people through the millennia to convey the message to anyone who may be listening that “We’re better than you.” The first, discussed in last week’s blog post, is “religious grand-standing,” that is, calling attention to one’s own good works and religious acts. The other, which we discuss here, is drawing attention to the flaws or faults of other people. These are two sides of the same coin; both are strategies intended to make one appear better than another person or group by comparison.
Pointing out the faults of others in an effort to make them look bad so we look better is the essential activity of judging others. When we do that regularly, we are rightfully recognized as being “judgmental.” Nobody likes being judged, and many people have zero interest in Jesus or his church because they believe (with some reason) that Christian churches are full of judgmental hypocrites.
The irony is that Jesus said he did not come to judge people:
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NLT)
…For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (John 12:47)
More ironic still is that Jesus tells his followers not to judge other people:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1)
One True Judge
The consistent teaching throughout the Bible is that there is one true Judge—God—to whom each of us must give an account for our own lives. You don’t give an account to God for my life, and I don’t give an account for yours:
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. (Romans 14:10)
Ambassadors of Reconciliation
So why is the church regarded by many as being full of judgmental folks? Perhaps it is because we are more vocal in making known what we’re against than we are in being “ambassadors” of God’s message of reconciliation to people who like all of us, are flawed and prone to pursue our own way:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
Working on Our Own Issues
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we Christians decided that since God is not counting people’s sins against them, neither should we? If instead of pointing out the faults or flaws of other people, we spent more energy working on our own? Would our churches be more inviting if, instead of condemning people for their wrong choices, we invited them to come as they are—flaws and all—so that we can encourage and strengthen each other while working through, with Jesus’ help, our various struggles? We might even find that we enjoy getting to know each other and spending time together so much that some other people look down their noses at us and rightfully call us “friends of sinners” (Luke 15:1-2).