A friend of mine recently wrote:
This is the very reason I stopped attending my youth group. It was so unwelcoming.
And, there’s something else, too. It seems to me, that rejection from the church crowd holds a bigger emotional consequence than rejection from other crowds. These are, after all, the people with whom you are supposed to be sharing God, a very intimate experience. It’s like rejection from a lover, in a way. Not to mention the fact, that church crowds are so darn good at rejection, and doing it group-wide. I have found that many churches are like giant rumor mills. If you get rejected at all, you get rejected ALL THE WAY.
No disciple of Jesus’ could agree that the above statement about “our people” is the way it should be.
Rather, all would say it would be best not to be this way.
So, what is it that prevents us from being the grace-filled, friendly, welcoming crowd that Jesus himself clearly was?
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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
(Most people stop quoting this little section there, but Jesus didn’t stop there, and neither will we!)
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
I see a few things in there that, by and large, are missed, through lack of sheer studying, as far as I can tell.
Judgment is the plank in our own eye.
As soon as we stop trying to correct other people’s behavior, we are freed, by grace, to love them.
As soon as we stop trying to force them into doing what they can not do, they will stop feeling judged. This is because they will stop being judged, since it was us doing the judging.
As soon as we stop trying to “force feed’ our “pearls of heavenly knowledge” to pigs…
(Y’all know that pigs do not, can not, eat pearls, right?)
…they’ll stop trying to bite us.
Judgment is something that only only only God is capable of pulling off gracefully.
But, we want people to change, right?
We want them to come to the place we are, where pearls are appreciated and treasured, rather than rejected?
How do we do that, if not by judging?
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Ask them if they might consider changing. Simple.
Asking for things is the key to obtaining what you want, in the Kingdom of God.
You ask the Father for things, so ask his Kids.
Simply turning your attitude away from “demanding/shoving” to “asking” make all the difference.
Of course, to get rid of this judging and contemptive attitude, really, to even be able to merely ask, you need to go back to the passages of the Sermon on the Mount that lead up to being able to pull that superhero level of behaviour off.
I present to you the amazing list of practices in which Jesus teaches us how to be of his mind.
In reverse order:
- Do not be anxious
- Lay up treasures in heaven
- Practice fasting
- Practice praying (includes instructions on doing it the right way!)
- Give to the needy
- Loving your enemies
…in all these little passages are deep deep mysteries of kingdom life — and the one follows the other: he put them in a specific order for a reason.
Once you have “worked out your salvation” in this order, and have (all with the Christ’s help) managed to lose your terrible in-born habit of judging, you are, then, at long last, spiritually able to move on to:
The Golden Rule
One does not simply “do” the Golden Rule.
It simply can not be “done” apart from living out the Sermon on the Mount’s teachings.
But, through the spirit, if you seek to obey the Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, by the time you’re ready to give up judging, your nature has changed so much that you are more than ready and willing to start doing to people — really and truly — what you wish they would do to you.
I could talk for hours about this, but i must get going on my day’s work.