The fourth step towards showing the love of God to our unsaved friends and neighbors and thus becoming dangerous disciples … STOP PLAYING GOD
Hypocrisy in our lives (see the last blog), hiding who we really are to cover our sin, always leads to judging. When we judge others, we play God and excuse our own sin by focusing on the sins of others. While there is a need for wise discernment and loving confrontation of sinful behavior, this is different from being judgmental. I once wrote in the margins of my Bible (I’m not sure where I heard it), “There is a world of difference between making judgment and being judgmental.” The problem is not that we make judgments but that we make judgments to excuse our own sinful behaviors.
In Matthew 7:1, Jesus tells us to “stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” The word Jesus uses here literally means to condemn or to damn. When we judge others, we stand in a place of moral superiority, looking down on them and condemning them for their failure to live up to God’s moral standard. But the problem is not that people haven’t sinned; it’s that we have no right to judge others when our own moral failures are just as bad as theirs, if not worse. Our tendency to condemn other people is really an effort to hide our own sin, and this inhibits God’s grace from flowing freely through us.
Today – it’s not “normal” for people to attend a church. Yet people need Jesus just as much as today as when attending church weekly was the norm. Our communities are filled with people who crave acceptance, long to be loved, and desperately want someone who loves them to challenge and guide them in a better way of living. People aren’t necessarily interested in hearing a sermon filled with rules and encouragement to change their behavior; they want their lives to be changed. They know they don’t have the strength to do it on their own, but they aren’t sure who they can trust. Sharing God’s love with people is about loving them right where they are and letting them know that it’s okay to not be okay. We find that most people long in their hearts to be loved, invited, and accepted into a community of Jesus followers where they can be really known and authentically accepted.
The woman who was caught in the act of adultery and was waiting to be stoned to death by the religious leaders (John 8:1-11) – remember her? When Jesus stepped into her situation, it changed everything. Jesus, who had no sin, had the most right to judge anyone, and yet the Bible says that instead he chose to become our sin, taking the weight of our failures on himself and suffering the consequences on our behalf. Taking our judgment, Christ showed us God’s mercy. I taught about how we, as his followers, need to be like Jesus, people eager to show mercy. We need to drop the rocks in our hands, the rocks we use to condemn others. When we drop the rock, we agree to stop playing God. And when we drop the rock, it allows others to see Jesus and experience the life-saving mercy of his work in their lives.
What will it take for us to stop being the problem? Let me suggest that for the most part, we simply need to get out of the way and let people encounter Jesus. Let’s stop whatever we are doing that distracts from his work of reaching lost people and showing them the mercy of God. Let the people he loves and died for become the passion of your church! Jesus radically devoted his life to one thing: seeking and serving lost people. He was intentional about it, practical, compassionate, and humble. As his followers, let’s get out of the way-removing the roadblock that keeps people from seeing Jesus – so lost people can encounter the living Christ in our lives and in our churches as we humbly testify to the grace we have received from him.