I love this line from “Jesus Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns.
“No one knows what we’re for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did”
It happens, though, doesn’t it? No matter how much we say we don’t, the truth is we do judge non-Christians with Christian values. And that’s wrong, my friends.
When people who don’t know Jesus come into church, we can’t expect them to measure up to some perceived level of “goodness!” We’re called to love messy, people, aren’t we?
We’ve probably all seen it happen, though. Someone steps through the doors. There are struggling… making poor choices. Then it happens. They step outside the lines… and BOOM. instant side-eye from the pews. I’ve been there, and I’ll tell you, it’s so easy to be the person giving the look, once we’ve gotten comfortable in the pew.
Nothing breaks my heart more than watching someone who messes up run as far as possible from the church. Why does that happens?
I believe in our attempt to help, we often times come at others from our Christian understanding of repentance. And sadly, if done with the wrong motive, it only causes people to turn away in shame. We have to be careful with how we approach others we see as problematic. Just read this verse in Matthew:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Yikes! I believe this is a big reason non-Christians don’t buy a word we say. We are often quick to judge what others are doing before we take a long, hard, honest look at our own stuff.
We can’t say we love people, welcome them into the church, and then look down on them when make wrong decisions.
I came to the church messy and dirty. Fortunately, the people there loved me with no expectation that I clean up my act first. For that, I am so appreciative. But I just watched someone I know, have a totally different experience, and it is deeply saddening.
Understand, I know the people involved are not mean spirited, horrible people. They are giving people who do their best to live “good Christian” lives. But they saw a problem child and thought explaining the correct way to do things would set the newbie on the right path. Well-meaning as it was, I saw the shame, and hurt a full minute before the conversation needed. I watched the recipient of those words slink away, trying to escape the experience and get somewhere they better fit in.
At the risk of being judgy myself, my only hope is that we consider grace when messy, troubled, broken people enter our doors. So, this post is for all my Christian brothers and sisters, but also for me. We must remember the mercy we’ve received, and tread lightly when tempted to judge the person sitting next to us.