Judgment is a hot topic in our culture today. It is at the center of many efforts to change longstanding laws and norms of society. The argument goes that the old way is “judgmental” and that it needs to be changed to eliminate hatred. The argument often is focused on the teachings of the Christian church and the words of God are thrown back at the believers. God says, “Do not judge, lest you be judged.” God says, “You will be judged by the same standards that you judge other people.” Jesus said, “I have not come into the world to judge the world, but to save the world.”
These words of God are held up like a mirror to Jesus’ followers and the reflection is, at times, ugly. We are guilty of judging others. We have all sorts of good intentioned reasons as to why we have done it, but in the end, it all looks the same. Good natured judgment is still judgment.
The rebuttals to the accusations of judgment are varied. Some “hunker down” and cling all the more firmly to their beliefs and throw the Words of God back at the people: “I won’t judge you, but God will!!!” Others cling to the “God is love” philosophy and conform to the world’s understandings of right and wrong.
So how do we live as God’s people with a Biblical understanding of right and wrong but not judge others when they don’t have the same standards? That is what we will be wrestling with this weekend in worship services. At the center of it is one of the most famously quoted Bible passages of all time, John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss