I seem to spend half my life trying not to offend people, and the other half exaggerating. I am growing tired of people-pleasing tbh (must be getting old.) So hopefully I will offend some people today, but in a good way. ☺
I believe that if a believer sees sin in another Christian, and they are in a good, trusting relationship (and/or a leader) then they should be free to challenge (not condemn) their friend on it. So that is what I am attempting to do here. (Please don’t judge me too harshly if I get it wrong.) Note that it must be done out of true love and concern, out of wanting the best for that person; not out of a sense of ‘I am better than you and if you don’t live exactly like me in every way, then you are obviously wrong. And get a haircut for goodness sake.’
I know a small handful of people who do actually get this right, so it is possible. It’s a gift like a rare gem, shiny and pointing to Jesus’ love for all of us.
Those who hear gossip about someone else and decide to put them in their place with self-righteous indignation, need not apply. Nor am I talking about a believer telling a non-Christian off for not being good enough. Seriously, read the gospel.
Sin is bad because it separates us from God, which is a terrible thing (for us, because God is our loving Father who made us to be in a loving relationship with him. He wants only the best for us and sin is the worst thing.) It leads to death (Romans 6:23). Also it hurts ourselves and often, other (innocent) people. So sin is bad. The Bible is really clear on what sin is so I am not going to go into that too much.
The huge problem that I have noticed in the church, is that many are so focused on their sins, or, more often, other people’s sins that they are completely missing the picture on what salvation truly is and what the actual point of this life on Earth is. You are so busy watching for the roots that may trip us up, that you forget to look up to see the beautiful trees. You are so bent over, examining and judging the detail of how sinful other people are that you are in danger of tripping up and falling flat on your judgy-pants arse.
And yes, I have been guilty of this myself. If I have judged you I am so sorry.
Jesus gets angry a few times in the Bible. Mostly it is about religious people who pretend to be all holier than yow, when he and they well know that believers are no better than anyone else. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. He didn’t die for us because we are clever or dress nicely or because we are somehow more deserving than the average non-Christian. He died for us because he loves us. While we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8).
So we have absolutely no right to go around thinking how sorted we are because we have faith. We have no right to sniff at the mistakes of others in a self-righteous and proud way, as though we have never done anything wrong in our lives.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
For many Christians, rather than loving people like God tells you to, you are actually saying:
“Hi, welcome. This is the way to God. Oh sorry, how awkward, you just aren’t good enough for Jesus like I am! Lol. Get lost.”
Instead of loving the lost like Jesus does, many of us are casting them out because of our judgementalism, ego, and inability to truly love people who we are not comfortable with. No wonder people lose their faith, after constantly being told how useless they are and how much they have to change to fit in.
No wonder people are too afraid to go to a church service, worried about what believers will think of them. Or thinking that they are not good enough to be loved by God, because all they see of Christianity is rules.
No wonder many Christians are too scared to open up to their friends when they are struggling with their finances or marriage or kids, dreading that they will be judged and found wanting by other Christians. What they need is love and support and just some good old-fashioned kindness.
This life is not about sin, it’s about God and how much he loves us! Matthew 22:37-39 tells us that we are called to love God first, and others as much as ourselves. We are not called to appoint ourselves as judge and jury over all creation.
Sin is bad and we are told not to take God’s grace for granted, but:
If you inject heroin, God loves you.
If you are having an affair, God loves you.
If you eat too much and then make yourself sick, God loves you.
If you are a Christian who struggles with judgementalism, God loves you.
Whoever you are and whatever you have done, God loves you more than you know.
I am not sorted either, but I am going to take my judgy pants off and endeavour to judge less and love more. I am even going to try not to judge the judgers, because that would make me a hypocrite.
I know I won’t get it right all the time, but that’s OK because God loves me more than I can get my head around, and will help me.
Lord, please help me to love others with your grace and compassion. Help me to see people with your eyes. Please help me to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Amen.
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:2 ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practise what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them…
13 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
15 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.