Judgment is Not Our Business
I know people who live as though they think that if God is in the forgiving business. They want to assure God never goes out of business. It is easy for me to lose patience with those folks, since I think they ought to be able to do better.
However, I am constantly reminded that God is not only in the forgiving business but also in the judging business. Judgment, especially over the lives of others, is God’s business, not mine. Self-righteous Christians, who pass judgment on the lives of others rather than carefully examining their own lives, have probably done more to hinder faith among people they come in contact with than to nurture it.
A friend of mine was told that she would not be able to help lead a children’s Sunday school group because she was divorced. The Christian Education Committee decided that having divorced people in leadership did not promote the proper image of church and its mission in the community.
The end result of the committee’s decision was the departure of my friend from the church and her failure to look for or find another supportive community.
- Who was helped by the decision of the committee? Who was hurt by it? Reflect on this.
- How can we respect the rights of people who disagree with us without compromising our faith?
- “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” are words used in funeral and memorial services. What is the comfort these words offer? Would you include these words in your own funeral ? Why or why not?
- What is your reaction to the kind of restriction of individual liberty for the benefit of others of which Paul speaks in Romans 14:14-19?
How Do I Act?
- Select one person with whom you know you disagree on some matter of faith. Pray for that person and for your relationship: not that (s)he might come around to your way of thinking, but that you might learn to respect one another even while you disagree.
- Are there practices or traditions in your congregation which exclude people who do not fit certain norms? How necessary are those practices or traditions to the continued growth and health of your church? Talk to your pastor about these exclusive practices and work toward change.
- Think of one person who has died who has been instrumental in your faith development. During your prayer time, give thanks for that person’s life.
- Select one practice or habit in your life which may cause someone problems. Try giving up or modifying that practice for a given amount of time. If it is possible, continue to do so when that time has passed.