Judging & Dividing

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When we look at our world today, it is easy to see divisions on many grounds. We have divisive politics, economic standards, acceptable social practices, how people need to view other people’s way of life, etc. These are challenging times we live in and it is sometimes difficult to take a stand on one side or the other without being ostracized and downgraded by opposing sides.

One of the biggest issues we face today is how we can do the loving thing to our neighbor so the love of God through Jesus Christ can be shown. The phrase “WWJD” is thrown around a lot and people use this to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” This has become a very divisive phrase since people have a particular viewpoint based on “their interpretation” of the Bible.

Matthew 7:1-5 says, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.”

These verses have been used to point out the “other person’s” errors and that “they” need to be more loving and compassionate. These verses come straight out of the Sermon on the Mount which deals mainly with how to live with our fellow neighbors. If you or I believe we are the ones in the right, we will typically explain to the opposing person why they are wrong and try to belittle them into feeling bad for having a “wrong” viewpoint which is really different from ours.

What could these verses from Matthew be telling us today? Let’s look at them again. Notice it does not explicitly give which side is right. It is really saying that before we go around telling another person why their wrong, maybe there is a reason they believe themselves to be right. What if we simply took time to listen instead of writing the other person off? Also, we should be careful that we are not being hypocrites and try to think we are better than the other person, because the truth is that we all have a “log” in our own eye and should work to remove that first.

Have you ever noticed how we have been given opportunities to “love” a sports team, political party, school, religious teaching and automatically demonize the other side? Think of it like this, “if you like (or love) UT, OU is the evil enemy and visa versa.” This can really be applied to anything we “love.”

So basically, before we (no matter what side on ANY issue) try to demonize or belittle the opposition, maybe we can realize they have value as well. Maybe, instead of thinking we are the ones in the “right,” we could take some time and understand where the other person is coming from.

If we acted this way, we can easily change “WWJD” to “WHJD.” Instead of asking “What Would Jesus Do?” we could remember “What Has Jesus Done?” The answer to this is simple: he ate with the sinners, welcomed and ate with the outcasts, prayed (and prays) for people (you and me), discipled people society thought unworthy, lived a life we don’t live, died for our sins and for us. Remembering what Jesus has done can change our way of thinking and could help us move the Kingdom of God closer to those who need to experience it instead of arguing over who’s right and who’s wrong.

The mission Jesus entrusted to his disciples, and to us, is still to be witnesses and bring people to Christ not showing a division and pushing people away from Christ.

Published by

Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

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