Deep in my spirit I’m feeling very uneasy. There’s thoughts bubbling around in my brain that I keep trying to pop, to push down into the recesses of my mind so I can get on with life ignoring them. But bubbles rise to the top. And so do these thoughts.
They concern judging. Humans have ALWAYS judged each other. The constant power struggles, the instinct to belittle others so that we come out on top is innate in all of us. Just ask yourself who you are jealous of? For me it’s the people with hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy a house in the country on my favourite programme ‘Escape to the Country’. But I criticise them too easily. I reveal my jealousy every time I watch the programme. I’m not happy for them when they buy that lovely house in the country. I’m finding lots of reasons why they don’t deserve it and I do.
Judging is endemic in the church. However much we try not to, as soon as we say that who someone is, is wrong or that someone can’t because of who they are…we’ve made a judgement about their worthiness. And that’s the root of judgement that I see. Who’s worthy and who isn’t. And logically, we fall into the trap of thinking that if some people are worthy and some are not…well then, I must make sure no one thinks I AM UNWORTHY. So we work hard, try our best and put on a show. We act our way to being seen as worthy.
And boy do we act. We pretend that we’re trying to pray more. We pretend we’re trying to read our Bible every day (and don’t we feel good when we get the chance to say ‘when I did my quiet time this morning…). We pretend we’re reviewing our giving so we can be just over that 10% gold standard (so we’re better than those who aren’t giving regularly.) We pretend that going to three evening meetings a week doesn’t hack us off and we wouldn’t rather sit veg-ing in front of the TV after a hard day at work. We pretend we must be a good and faithful servant when the umpteenth rota pings into our inbox, (well we tick the ‘serving in church’ box at least). We try not to ‘tut’ along with the church leader who says they know some people aren’t giving/serving and what a burden that puts on everyone else. And we all know people that just wouldn’t be welcome or ‘fit in’ at our church. We probably ‘tut’ at all the dirty, poor, criminal, sinning people in the local newspaper. Well, we wouldn’t do those things, we’re Christians aren’t we?
You can pretend you don’t (that’s up to you) but we are constantly comparing ourselves with others. We are constantly judging whether others are as worthy as us or whether we’ll ever be as worthy as them. We are judging using the Bible, of all things, as our justification. We say these people or those people are not worthy because this or that is sin – and they do that thing so they are sinners. They are judged.
But who gave us the authority to judge others in this way. Surely we’re all sinners? That means we are on a level playing field here. We’ll all stand before God one day and face the ultimate judgement, by the One who IS given the authority to do so. The Bible is very clear that Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross and was raised to life, is the only one with the authority to judge.
To me, it seems that we must be claiming we are Jesus if we judge. We are usurping him. We are doing what Adam and Eve did and saying we know as much as God. We don’t need him. We can do the judging and tell God who’s in and who’s out….we’ll save him the bother.
I’m tired of all this. I’ve listened and struggled with the churches judgement on women, LGBT, disabilities and so many other ‘unworthy’ peoples. I never saw Jesus turn anyone away from him. People came to him and he ministered to them. He changed people, yes….But it came out of their relationship, their surrender to him. It came out of his compelling kindness and compassion. Some walked away from him. And many of those were those who thought they were already worthy.
I repent of my judging others. I repent of not being brave enough to write this blog before or speak up for those being judged by the church. It was an interview with a Bishop on local radio this morning that prompted this response in me. It was a masterclass in avoiding the question. I suddenly thought how tired I was of these games. I surrender. To Jesus I surrender. He’s the one I love because he didn’t judge me, he forgave me and for all these years of being a Christian I’ve known nothing except his kindness and grace. I don’t deserve any of it. And for certain, no-one, absolutely no-one deserves to be judged by me.