No Christian believes they are judgmental. The problem is, 9 times out of 10, the outside world sees them as just that.
So, the question becomes,
Why do most evangelical Christians not perceive themselves as judgmental? And, what exactly in their behavior screams they are?
Oddly enough, I’ve been on both sides of this equation. And, to be completely honest with you, I’ve often landed more on the side of being judged than the one doing the judging. Yet (due to my every-time-the-church-doors-are-open-we-go-to-church upbringing) I get the reasoning behind the one doing the judging.
So, I find myself uniquely qualified to attempt an answer to this question.
But, instead of an answer I’m going to start with a short quiz.
(OMG, I’m kinda freaking out about this blog right now. Can I just say how cool I am right now?? I LOOOOOOOVE online quizzes. Yes. Total dork. Totally owning it. Don’t even act like you don’t)
So, here’s a list of 6 questions.
Here we go:
- Do you believe your specific faith (denomination or personal interpretations of scripture) to be the only, absolute truth?
- Do you believe you know what God thinks about certain situations?
- Do you believe that the most Christ-like loving thing you can do, is to warn and save others from hell?
- Do you be-friend the “lost” for the purpose of saving them?
- Do you often view others (who see things differently than you) as people you should correct?
- Are you fully convinced that your religion/faith offers all of the answers?
Now, for the scoring…
If you said yes to three or more of those questions, I can guarantee you that the world outside of your Christian circle feels judged by you.
What?! What is this you say??! I am only acting like Jesus!
Ah, and here we come to an impasse.
Ironically, no one around Jesus felt judged.
All of those beliefs listed above are exclusive.
Jesus was inclusive.
Jesus is truly the only one who has a “right” to hold to those beliefs and yet even he didn’t posture himself with that attitude. In fact, scriptures say that he did not come to judge or condemn anyone.
He died to end the judging thing.
Like END IT.
He stood in our place so no one could be condemned.
His behavior backed it:
A great example of this lies in the story of the adulterous woman. He said, “I don’t condemn you”.
It’s a scandalous proposition to offer no condemnation. It screams grace at the loudest of volumes. THIS IS WHY WE LOVE HIM. THIS IS WHY IT’S GOOD NEWS.
So where does all the Christian judging come from?
Well, there is one group in scripture that didn’t extend grace. That continually made everyone feel judged.
Or in Biblical terms, the Pharisees.
Jesus had full God-knowledge and full authority, but everyone felt loved and accepted by him. So, the question becomes, do you act more like Jesus or a Pharisee?
Well, let’s go through these beliefs and see:
You believe your specific faith (denomination or personal interpretations of scripture) to be the only, absolute truth. And, because of this, you believe you know what God thinks about certain things.
There is only one thing we can be absolutely certain we know of God: He is love.
The rest, well, there is only One who truly knows where absolute truth lies and what is in the mind of God towards certain people and behaviors: God himself.
Throughout scripture we see God continually moving, shifting, speaking different things to different groups of people. To put yourself on the same level of God in suggesting you know what he would or wouldn’t say or do, is pride at the highest level.
You believe the most Christ-like loving thing you can do, is to warn and save others from hell.
Jesus healed the masses without telling them to say a sinner’s prayer to be saved from hell first. He embraced, loved, accepted and called people friend without constant fear messages regarding hell.
The only people he consistently warned of hell, however, were the religious.
You be-friend the “lost” for the purpose of saving them.
This attitude says you’re better than; that you are the rescuer and they are the ones in need of being rescued. But, only God can be God and only Jesus can be Savior. You are just as much in need of being rescued as the one you are trying to rescue.
Jesus befriended people, took them as they were not just for the sake of “saving”. He chose to “save” everyone regardless. Jesus befriended from a motivation of unconditional love.
You often view others (who see things differently than you) as people you should correct.
This is a tough one. Because, the Christian sincerely believes they are doing the most loving thing by correcting. Yet, if you are the one being corrected, you only feel a harsh slap of judgement.
Every time you step into the ring to “correct” someone with your spiritual wisdom, you are picking up a stone – not love. Remember, Jesus defended the ones being “corrected”; He didn’t join in throwing stones (eh, scripture) at them.
The only people Jesus did continually correct were the religious who said they spoke for God and went around telling everyone how they should behave.
You are fully convinced that your religion/faith offers all of the answers.
I think a better question might be: do you believe that every answer pertaining to God and the human race could be contained by a religion or denomination?
If so, that would make God quite small. That would make the indescribable, describable. And the infathomable, fathomable. That would make his thoughts that are higher than ours, obtainable.
I prefer to believe God to be bigger than that. MUCH bigger.
Answering yes to those questions is common in religious circles. And, for that reason, I’m now often an outsider.
Years ago, I answered yes to many of them myself (and if you knew me 10 plus years ago felt judged by me, I am SO sorry) but I could not reconcile those beliefs with the way God interacts with me. I just couldn’t.
So, I let go of that and decided to just be a Jesus follower.
I want to love others the way he loves me.
I want to talk to others the way he talks to me.
My sweet friends, that is why I am invited to sit in a Hindu woman’s livingroom and weep with her over her baby who passed, without her fearing I will try to convert her to “my way”. This is why I can walk inside a strip club and love on the women there without an agenda other than just love. This is why I am able to talk to a transgender friend and treat them like a NORMAL HUMAN BEING without acting weird about it. This is why I am invited to sit with a mom as she exposes every failure while I hold her hand and she cries. This is why I can sit with both conservatives and liberals and not feel like I am better than, know more, or am more “right” than any of them.
I’ve let go of needing to have all of the answers.
Instead, I believe God holds every answer a human could need.
And I believe him big enough to speak to and connect with anyone and everyone.
Even without my help.
I believe our role is to love unconditionally.
As Jesus did.
To defend the ones dodging stones. To speak out for the vulnerable, weak and the outcast. To not attempt to play judge and jury. To not assume we know what God would think about other’s choices, lifestyle or behavior. To admit that God could say or do something we wouldn’t think he would.
By doing this, we embrace our own humanity.
True Christ-like love, is birthed in humility. Where we see ourselves as less. Where we position ourselves low and place others high. Where we view the greatest act of love not as correcting others – but as this:
The greatest love one could have is to lay down their life for a friend.
Lay it down means just that: get off the spiritual platform. Lay down on the ground. Know that all of us came from that same pile of dirt. ALL OF US. Yet, He chose to rescue and love us anyway.
I’m not perfect. I’m still learning. I still share my personal beliefs with those who ask. But, it’s a conversation; not a dictation. And, if I’m going to be in error, I choose to error on the side of love.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)