You (or I) are Not the Judge...(sigh)
The TV is littered with all sorts of shows where people perform in front of a table of judges for a shot at becoming America's Next...(fill in the blank). There is all sorts of criteria involved, but at the end f the day it really does come down to a personal, gut-feeling by the judge. They not only have to evaluate the raw talent, but also go with an instinct that will determine if this person has what it takes to be a star. In some of the shows the audience can participate by voting for their favorite performer, and other times it's just booing or cheering on the judges. We have very little power to judge others, because the criteria (and criticism) to us will be equally applied.
Holidays often bring out the best and the worse in people; especially around our own families. We like to sit in our high chair and judge the food, the gifts, the neighbors, etc. I am guilty of falling into this trap around my own family. But in our secret, comfortable spot is where we are also the most vulnerable. We can be tempted to judge or we can learn how to reconcile our feelings that make us judge one another.
Henri Nouwen wrote, "To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence."
He goes on to remind us that we are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. "When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division."
Jesus says it clearly: "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; ... do not condemn; ... forgive" (Luke 6:36-37). And there is good reason behind this statement. Jesus points out that we too will be judged, we too can be condemned by others, but we can also be forgiven.
This is a very powerful call to show compassion to those who we are most intimate with, as well as people we know nothing about. It frees us from being snarky or ill-tempered, jealous or petty, or any other negative emotion that will tear at the core of who we are and what God has called us to be. Most importantly, it frees us to live with joy and compassion, love and forgiveness, and gives us a front row seat to the greatest show on earth...life.
I believe Nouwen sums it up best when he said, "In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation."
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An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”