Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tossing Judgment Around

This week, I learned of a small group situation that troubled me. Judgment was being tossed around like the pigskin at an Indianapolis Colts game.

“They’re not serious about your faith.”
“They’re judgmental of everyone in the group.”
“They don’t want to pray enough.”
“They don’t know how to have fun.”
Have you ever heard this sort of thing before? I’m sure you have—unfortunately! Two questions come to mind: First, what can you do about it? Second, should you do anything about it?

Allow me to respond to both questions.

First, you can do something about it. Yet that something may not make a great deal of difference because the injured parties just can’t—or won’t—forgive. They’ve already left the group, mentally and emotionally. They’re done.

Yet there is hope if people can hear and practice the lost art of forgiveness. Living in Christ-centered community is hard. That’s why the Apostle Paul exhorted us with so many “one another” passages in Scripture. The one that applies to this difficult situation perhaps more than any other is found in his letter to the church in Ephesus:

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love." Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)
As we humble ourselves before God and take view of His amazing grace, we recognize our own sin—our own issues. It makes judging others much harder when you have an honest view of your own “stuff”.

Second, you should do something about it. Because community is hard it takes work. It involves personal sacrifice. It comes with a cost. That’s why the Apostle Paul gives us a strong exhortation in the following verse:

“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (NLT)
He writes, “Make every effort”. That means we are to work at it. We are to strive for unity. We are to fight for peace!

When judgment creeps into your community—and it often does—take heed of the Apostle Paul’s words. Begin with a posture of humility. Seek to forgive. Then make every possible effort to be unified.

This can stop the football-like judgment game. And it just might save your small group.


Cynthia said...

Currently in our church we are facing an "us" and "them" battle. The old guard are holding ever more tightly to their traditions, while the small but growing group want to branch into small groups and more contemporary worship. I felt as if each group were eyeing the other as an adversary, so I called a morning of prayer last weekend for those who want to see change and we walked around the sanctuary praying. I wanted us to regain the vision of the congregation as a body..not splintered into "us" and "them". God wants unity but we can't make it happen and God won't force it. So our best bet is to pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare the soil of peoples hearts.

Cynthia said...

I meant to tie that into the theme of "judging". It is easy for me to look at the staunch and silent and see them as stumbling blocks. But God reminded me that I cannot see into their hearts...He can. Some may very well be hungry and dis-satisfied and just not know how to grow.

Prayer is the best antidote to a judgemental spirit, for it is in that posture of humilty and praise that I see my own unworthiness and His unsurpassing grace.