“Christians can be some of the most judgmental people”.
A friend and fellow entrepreneur once posted this on her Facebook timeline.
Being a Christian myself, I had to pause for a moment to fully digest what I just read. The straightforward nine-word sentence was enough to evoke sadness and curiosity about whether or not it was directed at me (Ah, yes! Calling dibs on someone else’s ‘publicly hidden’ Facebook status post seems to be the in thing to do).
I guess the reason that her words hit me like a solid throat uppercut was because to a certain degree, I thought she was right. However, for that observation to have been boldly and openly stated by someone who didn’t share my faith felt like the uppercut was followed by a left hook and then a jab to the stomach! Ugh!
I can’t say I blame her for feeling that way. Like I mentioned earlier, I silently agreed with her. Not only had I personally seen it in fellow Christians, but I too had been guilty of mistakenly passing judgment on someone else in the past; and maybe to a certain extent, I still do (albeit unconsciously) from time to time.
Speaking from experience, I agree that some Christians can be the most judgmental people. I don’t know whether it’s a misinterpretation of God’s Word or a sense of entitlement that stems from a skewed perception of what it means to be God’s “chosen people” that makes many Christians look down their noses at others — and by ‘others’ I mean non-Believers and fellow Believers alike.
I personally experienced having been a target of such vitriolic attacks by some people in my own church many years ago. I had been judged and criticized for clothes I wore, for asking someone the wrong question at a Bible study session, and for being (then) married to a man whom nobody could stand to be around.
The sense of alienation I felt burrowed itself so deeply in my heart and continued to engulf me even months after that one incident of inadvertently violating the unspoken dress code policy, or that one time I failed to check the memo on questions I was never allowed to ask. Naturally, going through divorce further amplified my feelings of isolation from my “spiritual family”.
Reaching out to the leaders in our church also turned out to be futile. Much to my dismay, I was advised to ‘just look for another group’.
I thought, “Whatever happened to the shepherd going out, leaving the flock behind, in search of the one lost sheep? So I guess one sheep is not gonna be that much of a loss huh?” It was very discouraging and heartbreaking, to say the least.
I haven’t bothered to ask my friend what her basis was for the unsavory generalization, but I hope we Christians would take it as a wake-up call instead of reacting defensively. May it serve as a gentle but necessary reminder that although Christians may have been described in the Bible as having been “set apart”, it most certainly isn’t a license to discriminate or to pass hasty condemnation.
A critical and judgmental spirit stemming from a distorted sense of moral superiority is no more acceptable to God than fried chicken is to a vegan.
Behind the tendency to judge harshly is a lack of gratitude. Anyone who claims to be a Christian but continues to be overly critical of others hasn’t come to fully understand the grace he received from God.
Remember the novel Les Misérables and what Bishop Myriel did for Jean Valjean? When you know you deserved nothing less than to be convicted of a crime you have committed, but you received mercy and pardon instead, that can definitely change your life! As it was in the story, Jean Veljean repented and dedicated the rest of his life to becoming a force for good in the world.
People who have understood the immensity of the compassion they received will naturally want to extend the same compassion to others.
When it comes to the subject of non-judgmental-ism, I’d say turn to the experts — CHILDREN.
Have you tried observing kids at play (in a non-creepy way, of course!)? Have you noticed how making new friends need not a lot of introduction among kids?
Children don’t ask a lot of questions to just size each other up, nor do they care about gender, color, weight, academic achievements or annual income. They are, by nature, unprejudiced (unless influenced by parents with some serious issues). Everyone is created equal in a child’s eyes, and differences spark curiosity which leads to exciting discoveries, not condemnation.
There’s a good reason the Bible tells Christians to “become like little children”. Children have a way of accepting people and things in simplicity. They naturally assume the best about people, don’t over-analyze situations and intentions, or harbor a grudge.
The very foundation of the Christian faith is love. Jesus Christ — who Himself uttered the words, “Judge not, lest you be judged” — laid down His life for mankind because of love. But even more importantly, it was also Christ who said that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself”.
For Jesus, to love your neighbor as you love yourself means to practice justice towards your fellow human beings. Just as you would want to be treated with respect, fairness, kindness, and understanding, be willing to extend the same to others.
Therefore, ”as you love yourself, so shall you love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:39).
Fellow followers of Jesus, if there’s only one thing I wish for you to take away from this post, it’s simply to let love be the motivation in everything we do. Let love be our highest goal. That everyone who hears the words we speak, and sees the things we do, will be comforted, encouraged, and deeply blessed. Let this faith we profess be so evident in our actions that people just can’t help but be drawn to God more. After all, isn’t this the point of the Christian faith?
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (Mother Teresa)
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Originally published at medium.com