Our last blog showed that you can only say Jesus said 'never judge' if you cut and paste Jesus' words 'do not judge' from all the words around them. You have to reduce Jesus' words to only three.....Do. Not. Judge. But a reduced Jesus is not Jesus. A reduced Jesus is just a soundbite from our culture with some Jesus-sandals taped to its feet and a badly-fitting fake beard. I know the sticky-taped Jesus' my kids come home from church craft with are not the actual Jesus, and I know this isn't either.
Let me push the point further. Let me add even more words to 'do not judge'. This time not just more words of Jesus, but also the words of the prophets before him (which he did not overrule), and the words of his apostles (whom he sent out to give to us just such words). These words have authority too, and call on us to judge.
They make it pretty hard for Christians not to have a discerning interest in the way other Christians live their relationships (ie. make some judgments), though it is true that they do not invite us to make the same kinds of judgments about people who are not Christians.
Some Bullet-points on Judgment
Here are some bullet points I think are non-controversial, but probably painful. You may take one or two of these in the chest. That's OK, Jesus wounds sometimes, but he always heals.
- The bible expects all relationships to impact upon other individuals and other relationships. We live unavoidably in a social network. (Gen 2:24; Deut 24:1-4; 1 Cor 5:1-2)
- The bible teaches us not to judge people who aren’t Christians in their relationships, but to judge people who are Christians in their relationships. (1 Corinthians 5:10)
- The bible describes judgments about relationships that are both essential and helpful. (2 Samuel 12:1-31; Proverbs 1:8-8:36; 1 Cor 5:1-13)
- The bible expects that sometimes these judgments will be painful. (1 Cor 5:11; 2 Cor 7:8-13)
In light of this, it seems reasonable that Christians might have a little more to say about supposedly ‘private’ relationships (among Christians at least) than other people will. This may not be make it more likeable, but it does at least explain why.
But how should Christians do it? That will be the subject of our next blog.