“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
I read an article where a young girl in a very conservative college was chastised for wearing a low-cut shirt because she was allowing temptation in the minds of the young men to flourish. And we all judged because of course women shouldn’t be shamed for wearing v-neck sweaters while men stare with drool coming out of their mouths, and how ridiculous are these religious people. And yet when hardworking nurses tend to the poor and the homeless at community health centers, some consider it charity undeserved, and handouts undesirable, and critics sit in their easy chairs and scream at the television, judging how America’s gone to hell with regard to its own moral fiber. We all at some point have sat in meetings where people use double negatives and we laugh at people’s ugly blazers and cackle when the mighty fall. And when marriages split up? The cheerleader gets fat? Men cheat on their wives? Celebrities die of overdoses? For heaven’s sakes a woman makes a choice involving her body? Give me a scenario and I’ll let you know how we as humans handle it – we find a way to cast a firm and harsh judgment upon it. If I can think of one sin that continues to flourish in our society without reservation, it’s our continual and sickening judgment. You can tell I don’t listen to talk radio. For the love.
Because in reality, God’s the only judge in the room that matters. Live your own life to glorify the one you serve, and let God work out the rest.
I have a friend who belongs to another denomination. There’s a different word on his church building. It’s on a different road and in another town and there are songs I’ve not heard and worship I’ve not experienced in my stable and slow-moving Presbyterian fashion. It delighted me like a shiny penny, and we had long talks over wine and gruyere cheese while laying strewn comfortably about on the couch regarding our differences in faith, family, worship, and traditions. It made me realize how grateful I am that in this country we have the right to choose our ice cream flavor, and can walk out of this temple and into this other, and how we can love each other when they don’t check the boxes in the same order. And he was a lovely man that I cherished, despite our differences, and his heart was huge and he loved to serve and there was no one he considered beneath him.
Because who are we, exactly, to be elitist about how people answer to their own God, or which road they decided to tread upon, or choices that they determine to make? I think in the end we’ll all be shocked about how understanding our Heavenly Father is about the struggles that we manage to muddle through, and choices that we make that might not always have beautiful endings. Because he knows our hearts, dear friends, and at the core isn’t that what’s it’s all about?
Instead of judging about how people live their lives, or how they worship their God, or whether they wear long skirts or v-necks or whether they have ten kids or none, let’s just let our hair down in a very 1970’s flashback and allow each other to breathe. To be. To feel comfortable in who they are. I wish for a day we could all just allow people to make mistakes, and give each other the benefit of the doubt, and consider our only job on earth to pray for the lost in silent, and encourage our own children to be strong men and women of character, and love fiercely the God we serve. It’s not our role to place judgment on the choices of others, but to simply love with a pouring out of our Father like morning rays to a spooky and eerie night, allowing it to permeate those around us, filling up hearts and shining like brilliance and to say always and forever thank you. For allowing us to co-exist. For reminding us to complement each other’s unique gifts. To encourage us to think and look at things differently.
And as the dew forms we see vast and glorious differences in the field, strewn about with color and shapes that makes for a patchwork of glory. Paintbrushes and bluebonnets and wild sea oats floating in the breezes. This is life. This is His kingdom.
This, my dear friends, is freedom.