by: Rev. Ed Schneider

Luke 6:37   37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

John 12:47   47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

James 4:11   11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

   Every human being is born with certain understandings that they don’t have to learn. Things like the need to eat, the need to feel safe, or the need to procreate seem to come naturally to us humans.  However, most of the rest of our knowledge and understanding comes to us through life experiences, the guidance of others, and the innate searching for growth.

The other day I was reflecting back upon the days of my childhood. The time of reflection centered around a moment when my grandmother and I were attending some church function. The gathering of church folks was a busy scene of bodies moving back and forth. Old folks were gathered in the corner talking about old times. Children were running around, mostly trying not to get into any obvious trouble. There were those faithful serving in the kitchen and the usual group of men standing in a doorway arguing about some sports team. Yet, there sat my grandmother and I in the center of the room taking it all in. All of a sudden my grandmother’s friend, “Sister-Somebody” came by the table where we were sitting and said to my Grandmother, “Some of these folks better be glad I am not God, ’cause I sure would be sending somebody to hell today.”

Sister-Somebody then spent the next couple of minutes talking about this person or that group. After those important condemnation highlights, my grandmother looked her squarely in the eyes and told her, “I’m glad you’re not God either!” They both laughed and then Sister-Somebody went on her way.

Whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, whether we even accept it or not, every one of us is constantly being challenged and molded through our life experiences and personal preferences. We human beings are profoundly good at succumbing to the tendency of separating ourselves into arbitrary camps of people who are just like us. The result of this basic human tendency of artificial separation is that us human-folk begin to learn the devastating art of emotionally lifting ourselves up by invalidating and reducing the value of others who are outwardly different from us.

Because of this very real human condition I am absolutely sure that if any of us were able to “be God” for more than a couple of days, would be sending far too many of “everyone else” straight to hell.

Isn’t it great that we worship a God who is not like us, but merely calls each of us to be more like him; a God of grace and mercy; a God that calls us into “more” than what we could ever hope to be on our own. Thank God Almighty that we were created in the image of God, NOT the reality of our many faults. We are profoundly positioned, as members of the Body-of-Christ, to be living witnesses to our foundational belief that God’s resurrection power is not limited to a miraculous event more than 2,000 years ago. It’s very much alive, even today.

Us Christian-folk talk about resurrection all the time, but how often do we show it in our daily lives? By looking at others with eyes that are filled with condemnation, we shout that the resurrection is not true. A heart that is empty of faith screams to the world and to God that it does not represent foundational Christian beliefs. This lack of faith is most often demonstrated in our unwillingness to let God be God. We need to seriously stay out of the God-business. When we choose to superimpose OUR level of experience, or knowledge, or preferences on to other people, we are in affect saying that our way is the only way. In other words, since “your way” is not “my way” it becomes somehow less valid.

When we begin to judge other’s differences as less valuable than our own preferences, we start to deny the creative brilliance of God. When we foolishly deny God’s creative diversity, we fall head-long into the deep chasm of “us” versus “them.” After this, the Call-to-Christ is so cheapened that it becomes merely a shell of its original Divine intention. When that happens, nobody wins but a very clever serpent.

Peace.

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