Simple answer: WE JUDGE.
Even though Jesus stated very succinctly, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others and the standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
Yet we still judge.
What kind of lifestyle do they have?
What political party do they belong to?
What kind of responsibility have they taken in their life?
What kind of faith do they cling to?
What theology do they hold?
WE JUDGE and often times, very subtly and smugly, we decide who should receive a miracle.
The prophets never said, “Love, serve and defend if you approve of the way they are living”, or “Love, serve and defend if you think they deserve it”, or “Love, serve and defend if you think they will appreciate it.”
They just declared, “LOVE, SERVE, DEFEND!”
Judging might help justify not getting involved.
In the ninth chapter of John, the disciples ask Jesus whose fault was it that a man was born blind.
They inquired, “Was it his fault or his parents?”
2000 years later we could ask, “Jesus, why was this little boy born HIV positive? Whose fault is it? Why was this young girl born in a dangerous, drug infested no hope neighborhood? Whose fault is it? Why have these kids, on the border of Mexico, been orphaned? Whose fault is it anyway? Why are people addicted? Why are people homeless? Why are people lonely? Whose fault is it?”
Nothing wrong with asking why, but we can get stuck on the why and justify our lack of involvement by judging.
They were promiscuous.
They were lazy.
They were sinful.
We can get so theologically convoluted, we can miss the whole point and more tragically we can miss the miracle.
Jesus answered his disciples, “It was not anyone’s fault. This man was born blind, so that God’s mercy could be demonstrated.”
And a miracle happened. The blind man’s eyes were opened.
I don’t know the answers to all the “whys” of this world but I do know this:
When a baby born HIV positive is offered God’s mercy by being given an antiretroviral drug, a miracle happens.
When a prostitute is offered God’s mercy by being loved by a local church and given support, resources and life skills to change her life, a miracle happens.
When a homeless person is offered God’s mercy by being given shelter, food and transportation, a miracle happens.
When a foster child is offered God’s mercy by being given a healthy home and support system, a miracle happens.
When a person far from faith is offered God’s mercy in a grace-filled church service, a miracle happens.
There are a lot of dark places of judging in our world today.
There are a lot of hopeless people who have been judged.
There are a lot of people who don’t know where to turn for help and the church has too often judged “who” they are and “why” they are where they are at, to decide if they are worthy of being offered God’s mercies and miracles.
Jesus asks people of faith to not judge. It’s that simple.
The book of James in the New Testament reminds us, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
It is important to remember what the scriptures DO NOT say:
Treat those that work for you fairly and give them what they earn…if the economy is good.
Share your food with the hungry…if they are thankful.
Shelter those who are helpless, poor and destitute…if it wasn’t their fault.
Clothe those who are cold…if they are working on their issues.
Don’t hide from relatives who need your help…if they will pay you back.
Love those who are hurting…as long as you approve of their lifestyle.
Make sure those who are in prison know they are not alone…as long as they say they are sorry.
The scriptures are very clear:
Care for the orphan.
Defend the widow.
Rescue the girl that has been sex-trafficked.
Love the foreigner.
Invite into your home the alien.
Visit the prisoner.
Accept the rejected.
Lift off the burdens of people who have been crushed by religion.
No caveats. Just do it.
Offer mercy so miracles can happen.
We have all been created equal so I have a question for you. What race, socioeconomic, political, religious, lifestyle or age group do you struggle with judging?
A gay person?
A homeless person?
I challenge you to offer them mercy, let God break your heart and prepare for a miracle.
Sometimes the greatest way we can start to offer mercy is to pray!
One of the most powerful prayers I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women.
Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis.
Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote “The Hiding Place”, was imprisoned there too.
The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says: “Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”
Wow! That last line gives me chills and brings with it a deep conviction to my heart.
I really do believe the #1 reason we do not see miracles is because we judge instead of offer mercy.
Luckily, God did not let the “who” or the “why” get in the way of his mercy.
The words of Brennan Manning share with us the gracious mercy of God that led to the ultimate miracle that reverberates throughout the infinity of time.
“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. (see Revelation 7:9)
I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son.
I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives.
I shall see the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions.
I shall see the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love.
I shall see the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.
‘But how?’ we ask. Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’
There they are. There ‘we’ are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”