A Judge-Free Zone

f there is any place on face of the earth that should be a judge free zone it is the church. It is a place where people should be able to come in without the fear of being judged and treated badly.

As Christians we are to love everybody no matter what. One of Jesus greatest commandments is to love people, Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In the past twenty years of ministry, Dale and I have run into many people who have left the church because of the judgmental ways of some of God’s people. It breaks my heart every time someone tells me a story like I heard from my physical therapist. I did not know what to say to this woman. I truly believe there are many people who love God with all their hearts. There is a world out there that is in desperate need of the Good News – they are lost – we need to show them God’s love. I cannot defend Christians who are so judgmental that they push people away from God

Some of the most hateful and mean people I know, say they are Christians. Maybe the reason I have so much trouble with these Christians is because the Bible tells us not to act like that.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12, 13)

These Christians think that God has given them the right to judge and hurt other people with their poisonous and venomous words, not caring about the harm they are doing in the name of God. We have had first-hand experience with some of these people.  What I find interesting is that many times people are being judged not for following biblical standards but for arbitrary man-made rules. In the light of eternity these rules are not important. I was talking to a couple who was proud of their pastor because he would throw people out of their church if the person does not dress the correct way or didn’t follow their standards – even if this person was “off the street.”  Like I said last week, Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the “spiritual elite” – the Pharisees and Sadducees.  We are reminded in John 3 that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.  If Jesus, who is God’s son didn’t come to condemn the world – why do we think it is our job.  Let me make this plain, Jesus did not condone sin – remember the story of the woman caught in adultery.   Jesus asked, “where are your accusers?  Neither do I accuse you.  Therefore, go and sin no more.”  If we are reaching lost people, sometimes it is going to be messy.  They aren’t going to act the way we act – they aren’t going to dress the way we dress – they aren’t going to speak the way we speak.  In my experience, more is caught than taught and while that works for children, it also works for those who don’t know Jesus.  They will be watching.  Several years ago, Dale worked at Radioshack.  None of the guys were believers and they swore like sailors “literally.”  One was even a former sailor.  Even the customers talked this way. Dale couldn’t believe his ears – but was very careful just to model the behavior.  Over the next few months an amazing transformation took place.  Instead of hearing foul language every fourth or fifth word – the foul language almost disappeared – without a word from Dale.  Non-believers are watching us more than we know.  Yes, it was disappointing several years later when Dale took the time to talk about spiritual things and found a closed door, but even now after many years, Dale prays for those former co-workers that they will find Jesus.  I think they know that Dale cared for them greatly and in the process he showed the love of God, and didn’t judge – and that is what we are called to do.

The church – of all places in the world – should be a place of mercy and grace – not of judgment.

 

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