I also am the world’s messiest burrito eater and 9 times out of 10, I can’t back straight out of the driveway. And I dance by myself. A lot. (As in I may or may not have spent the better part of the last weekend learning Beyoncé’s Single Ladies dance). And I have no problem admitting all of these horrible flaws that I have for one reason:
I’m not perfect. No one is.
I think that there are times that we forget that. If I’m thinking about myself, I can totally admit that I’m not perfect. After all, I have definitely had the front row seat to my mistakes and failures. But, when we judge people, we seem to forget that we have ever made any mistakes. What is this magic eraser we use? All of the sudden, we place ourselves into this blameless light where we are awesome and whoever we are comparing ourselves against is lower than dirt. I don’t understand why that is the nature of judgment, but what I do know is that it makes no sense.
I was on campus last semester and I was walking behind this girl who was wearing nude leggings as pants. They were transparent. I saw everything. There was no longer any pretense of mystery between me and this girl. It was embarrassing for me, but she did not care. She was proud of herself in those leggings and she was working it. (Seriously, you go girl. I wish I had that level of confidence.) My first thought was, “She does not need to be wearing leggings as pants. What was she thinking this morning? Who let her out of the house like that?” Shortly after I had this thought, I remembered that I myself was wearing leggings as pants. So, what was the difference between us? Nothing. I’m sure there is someone out there who is telling this story and I am the over-confident girl wearing the leggings as pants. However, in that moment, I wasn’t thinking about my own bad wardrobe choices or about how this girl felt or that she was a human being with feelings just like me. I just unleashed my full judgment without a second thought. Although this is not the most extreme case of judgment ever, it still makes me wonder…
Can we love anyone if we are judging them? Short answer: No. You can’t. I just don’t think that it’s possible.
So why do we do it? Maybe it’s automatic. Maybe we want to feel better about ourselves so we use other people to take out our own petty frustrations. It really doesn’t matter why we’re doing it. What does matter is that it’s wrong. If we as Christians are called to love, then we shouldn’t be judging everyone around us, making ourselves out to be saints while tearing down all the “horrible sinners” who are around us. The last time I checked, Jesus ate with the tax collectors and prostitutes. Why? Because that’s who needed him. That’s who still needs him. God was really hammering this into me the other day when I read Matthew 9. The Pharisees were watching Jesus eat with the sinners and tax collectors and they didn’t get it because, let’s face it, he was God incarnate on Earth. But, what was Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees?
“Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means:
I desire mercy and not sacrifice.
For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus realized that he was the only perfect one and that it was the lowest of society who needed him the most. However, some days it seems like the church is the last place that anyone is going to find the love of Jesus. Instead, there is an attitude like the Pharisees. I know how it is. I have definitely felt like the church was the popular table and in a Regina George-like voice was saying,
“You can’t sit with us.”
What is sad is that I needed Jesus. I think the most heartbreaking day for me came when I was having this really intense discussion about my pregnancy with a family member. She looked at me and said, “There are a lot of people who say things at church. You know? Because the Deacon’s daughter is an unwed mother. And they judge us. But how many of them waited until they were married to have sex? I think they are ridiculous. You just got caught. I love you. I don’t care what they say.” I want to ask you a sincere question. How welcome do you think I felt at church after that? I never went back. Not only did I never go back, I felt ashamed and like I would never be able to go back to church ever again unless I was married. How sad is that? I was going to be stuck in an abusive relationship and further commit to someone who hurt me just to avoid the judgment of those around me.
As a Christian, I am supposed to be the physical representation of Christ’s love on earth. So are you. We all are.
We are called to love, not to judge.
For some reason, when it’s our own sin, it is so easy to say in our defense that “only God can judge us.” However, how much sense does it make to say that and then make snap judgments about everyone else? It’s useless and destructive because all that we do is make people feel awful, guilty and ashamed, which, the last time I checked, was the opposite of love. When you see someone who you think is so horrible and below you, maybe you should go out of your way to make them feel loved and accepted. That’s what Jesus did. Imagine if Jesus acted the way that we do sometimes as modern Christians. What if, when a prostitute came to Jesus he told her, “Don’t come near me, I know where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.”
He didn’t say that. And I’m sure that none of us can imagine circumstances under which he would say that. But we have no problem saying it ourselves. So what do we do? How do we fix this problem? Stop the judgment and start loving on people. No matter how bad you think they are or how good you think you are in comparison, maybe you should just throw it all out the window and
Love with abandon. Give mercy, not sacrifice. Love EVERYONE. Even those you think don’t deserve it.
Because you don’t know anyone’s life but your own. Everyone is fighting a hard battle and some days, they feel like they are losing. Who knows? Showing the love of Jesus to them might change their life. Do you want to be the one who shows them the love of their life or the one who makes them feel bad about themselves and ashamed? From now on, I’m choosing love. No matter how people treat me or how awful their sins are or if they are wearing leggings as pants and I don’t approve. Because, you know what? I’m not perfect and Jesus chooses to love me in spite of everything. I don’t want to lose one opportunity to share that love. So get out there! Don’t lose an opportunity to love someone, especially those you think don’t deserve it. Because, let’s be honest, who is in a position to judge anyone? I’m tired of throwing the first stone and dodging everyone else’s. Let’s just love each other and leave the judgment to the only one who is worthy of that job: God.
P.s. I will wear leggings as pants as long as I am single and only accountable to myself and God. My rule is two-fifths covered, 100% totally okay. Ha!)