Posts Tagged ‘judgment’

            Every time a celebrity falls from grace, either by the whims of the populace or by stupid actions on their part, there is someone waiting to condemn them in no uncertain terms.  More often than not this condemning  person is a believer.  No where has this been more evident than in the recent and sudden death of Michael Jackson.


            Granted, this isn’t an easy issue to face.  At best the man was troubled, had a horrid childhood, numerous oddities, and lived an uncomfortable life in the spotlight. What were worse were the pedophilic allegations, and his fixation with remaining young.  The question becomes how do we, as disciples of Jesus, navigate the waters of opinion surrounding this mysterious and yet gifted man?


            Now I’m as opinionated as the next person, o.k. probably more so, but that only means that I have to really watch my motives, actions, and words, especially as it pertains to people I see.  As a Christian (really hesitate to use this word as it means so many things to as many people) I have to walk a very fine line between having good judgment of situations, and standing in judgment.  The former helps me be wise about the situations I face and how to handle them, and the later, well…we’ve all got examples of this, and mostly from the lips of other Christians.  This is ironic, and sadly, sin.


            I ran into an example of this today that angered me, and more importantly, made me sad, as it means somewhere along the way, we who claim to follow Jesus have not taught each other Jesus’ words and ways.


            Here’s the conversation I witnessed between three believers:


Host: Who will Michael Jackson be remembered: Pedophile Legend or Pedophile Wacko? Let your voice be heard? VOTE HERE!

Girl 1: I think he could have been a disciple of Jesus

Host: Even Judas was a disciple

Boy 1: If God had wanted him to be a disciple, he’d have been there. nuff [sic] said.


            The less gracious, more judgmental side of me wants to just yell “Well two out of the three of you are demonstrating that God doesn’t want you for disciples either!” but that would be me falling into the same snare that plagues so many of us.  We forget that, literally, there but for the grace of God go us!  The Apostle Paul gave the church in Corinth a good talking to on the same subject.  He reviewed the mistakes made by the early Israelites.  God miraculously led them out of Egypt, and saved them many times, yet how quickly they forgot and turned away from him, while still on the journey away from Egypt. His admonition to the church was just this: What happened to them are examples to us.  We’re no better, even though we have a fuller revelation of God’s heart through his son Jesus, so if you think you’re standing firm, pay attention, you’re just as capable of falling as they were. 


            We all are capable of failure. We all are capable of screwing things up royally.  We all have the capacity to deeply hurt and wound others.  And yet we all have the capacity to become like Christ and infect our world with the Grace and Truth of Jesus. It’s said in scripture that God desires that none should perish, but all come to salvation and partnership with him and his kingdom.  The thing of it is, it comes down to us. We get the choice.  We can choose to follow Christ, and partner with him, or we can choose to go our own way.  The reason the exchange I shared bothers me so much is because it makes it seem like if Michael Jackson had been a better man (oh say like us-please read in an extremely sarcastic tone) then God would have sought him out, and there would have been no way he could have not been God’s disciple.  This makes it seem like we, who are Christians, are better people then those who are not.  And this is judgment.  And this is sin.


            Paul, in a letter to the early Roman church says the following: ”For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”. We should pay attention to this.  Being Christian makes us no better or no worse than anyone else. Our actions for the sake of Christ should reflect him, and not the belief that we’re superior in any way.  As my good friend Josh reminded me today “there's such a strong desire in Christians to declare who's in, who's out, who's wrong and who's right, rather than being willing to just be involved in people's lives and to realize we all have a long way to go toward being Christlike”


            This does not negate the damage that Jackson may have done with his life.  It is only right for us to acknowledge that his behavior was often shady, and even wrong, in the way he related to children.  However, our response shouldn’t stop there.  Like the ancient prophet Isaiah said, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.  All of us.  So while we should stand up and stop things that hurt others (i.e. child abuse) we should also remember that we are capable of evil too.


            Oh, and that God demonstrated his love for all of us like this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

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I have a mammoth ring.  It’s big, loud, and very expensive looking.  It is an aquamarine, at least 20 carats.  It was one of my grandmothers rings and it spent a lot of time sitting in a bag, unworn.  Then I came across it.  I love the thing.  It is big and garish, and contains the diamonds from her first wedding ring (the one where she ran off after graduation with her sweetheart, and the parents had it annulled) and I felt it deserved to be worn.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t stand on ceremony, if I like it I wear it, estimated worth be damned.  I wore it often, and mostly on my left ring finger, as it fit better, and wasn’t so in the way if I was writing etc.

            The most unusual thing about this ring was the reaction.  I’m a portly woman.  I do not possess slim, yet childbearing hips. My boobs are not perky, haven’t been for years.  If I don’t wax regularly my beard can rival my brothers.  Lets face it, as beautiful as I see myself, I am not conventionally hot.  In my line of work I come face to face with many different types of people, frequently salesmen.  You know the type.  Nice suits, good cars, still wearing their college class ring, permanently attached to their mobile phone’s Bluetooth attachment, suave briefcases, state of the art laptops.  These are the types that can’t bother to give the time of day to me.  I get a perfunctory glance, a flash of disdain, and then get handed a platinum American Express card while they continue to deal with some crisis/schmooze some client at top volume, via cell phone, in the lobby of the hotel.  But then I reach with my left hand to the printer, present the registration for them to sign, and they catch sight of my ring.  They look at it, look back at me, look at it again, and their demeanor changes.  The phone conversation gets put on hold. They look me in the eye, we have a pleasant exchange.  They comment on my ring.  One gentleman even took my hand and said “Damn girl, he must really love you!”  I say nothing; just inwardly roll my eyes at the idea that such costly candy could determine my worth. I get irked to find that I am judged and found wanting until there is monetary proof of my value.  The sad thing is, every day at work, I find myself doing the same wicked thing.

            I judge.  It’s reprehensible, but I do.  I put up my guard at the person who calls me ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’ because I know he’s trying to soften me up for a discount.  I eye warily the woman who tells me she wants to let her kids have a break from the cold in the pool, because in two hours I know I’ll be yelling at her kids, and chastising her for sneaking her whole neighborhood in the back door.  I decide I’m not going to hire people because of the way they dress/look when they come in to fill out an application. I make up my mind on whether or not I’ll like the person based on the questions they ask me on the phone.  I get on edge when I realize the person I’m making the reservation for is Local, not passing through because I know they are going to be more trouble.

            I can argue that each one of these is experience based, and just wise thinking, but to be honest, I’m not happy with this attitude.  I feel like the nature of my job is making me cynical of humans, rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt.  The very quality I hate in people is the very trait I’m beginning to wear with distinction.  How do I stop this?  How do I love my neighbor without being gullible? I wish I knew. 

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