I’m not judging you.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a story about the struggles of a newly minted single Christian woman. In the story, this woman, Diana, had woken up from a night of passion with her ex and had to deal with the guilt of it all. That story, titled Morning After, was my way of saying that our struggles don’t simply go away just because we’ve decided to follow Christ. Of course there was heartbreak and drama.
A couple of readers reached out to me after reading Morning After. They wanted me to know that they enjoyed the drama aspect of the story and that they could relate all too well to the struggles of Diana. However, they felt that the church, the place where they were supposed to get refuge, was instead the biggest persecutor of their struggles.
I was saddened by this revelation, but not surprised. Haven’t we all, at some point, heard from non-christians who complain about the judginess of Christians? Don’t we all know a person who left a certain church, or left the church all together, because they could not take the overwhelming perfection the church demands?
Have you been judged for the way you dress? You may not even be remotely indecent but it could be the cut of your dress. Are you a man with dreadlocks? Do you have a tattoo? Have you had sex outside of marriage? Do you have some questions about the church and have been told to blindly follow church doctrine? Have you ever been in a church service where an unmarried couple who have “sinned” have been asked to apologise to the church? Have you seen how the looks of disdain have followed this unfortunate couple? And how there’s really no redemption for them in the eyes of the congregation? Have you felt judged by Christians?
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over my life as a Christian is that Jesus doesn’t demand perfection from us. Society is what demands perfection. If anything, Jesus was a rebel who broke societal norms by communing with people who were considered to be ‘undesirables’. As the church, this is who we are called to emulate. This is who we are called to follow.
The only expectation Jesus has of us is to believe in Him and in His Grace. And as we increase in our faith, the parts of us that are ‘undesirable’ decrease and it gets easier to deal with the temptation and the struggles. And of course, the two greatest commandments which He gave in Matthew 22:37-39 which are all about love. Loving God, loving self and loving others.
And if we are to love, how then do we judge? Should we even think of judging each other? For me, this judginess is the hubris of thinking that we are better than everyone else, just because we sin differently than they do. We hold ourselves to impossible standards, trying to perform Christianity instead of actually being followers of Christ. And we judge people for not attaining these standards, yet we can’t even reach those standards. The difference is that we are not caught. It has become a game of appearances.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Matthew 7:1-2
If perfect love casts out all fear, then why do we have to fear coming to church. Why is the church acting like society where they don’t welcome the different. The person we follow was rebel. We are supposed to be rebels too. He did not fit in, He stood out. No one who is struggling wants to be told how bad they are. They want to be loved and held through their struggles. They want – need- to be helped. The Bible, in Galatians 6:2 says to carry each other’s burdens. But do we really do that? Or do we look down on people who’s burdens are unlike ours?
In 2016, I read Visions From Heaven by Wendy Alec. A particularly story stuck with me because it’s a perfect representation of what we have become. I’ll paraphrase the story since I read this book a while back. Wendy tells of a vision she had where christians where seated on a platform having a tea party. They were dressed to the nines and looked amazing. Just below them were people who wanted to be let into the party but they weren’t ‘desirable’. They wanted help from the Christians. But the Christians didn’t help. Instead, they went on judging the people and drinking tea.
Dear Christian. We are called to love. Instead of pointing fingers, let’s reach out.