Posted: January 20, 2011 in Words

I’ve heard all my life that one of the things non-Christians don’t like about Christians is that we’re too judgmental. I think that’s a little unfair because if you stop and look objectively at things, it’s not just us Christians who are too judgmental- I think it’s everyone.

"Come closer so I can smack you with my gavel."

Sometimes it feels liks the world we live in is just too polarized. Democrat or Republican? Black or White? For or Against? Fox News or CNN?  (And in theological circles: Calvinist or Arminian?) Was I born after the time period in which it was OK to see the logic and value in both sides? Not that I always do that. I’ll admit, there are times when the polarizing person is me. Either by choosing a side or forcing others to, I become part of the problem instead of an advocate for solutions. Maybe one day I’ll be wise, experienced, and mature enough to keep all that in check, but for now I’m still a work in progress, and if you take a deep breath and are honest with yourself, you are, too.

We all make judgments based on the lenses through which we view the world. You grew up in a certain house, in a certain town, with certain parents, in a certain lifestyle that was completely different from my experience. Because of that, your view of everything- money, marriage, politics, religion, pets, Oprah Winfrey, R rated movies, classical music- is going to be different from mine. Does that make your opinions better or more right? Are you a more valuable member of society than me because you grew up with cats and I’m a dog person? I hunt, you’re a vegan- is one of us better than the other? I pastor a church, you drive a truck, he’s a physics professor, she serves lunch in a school cafeteria- what’s the order of importance there?

As a Christian, I do have certain principles and convictions I live by that I’ll discuss but I’m not budging on- we all do. But every one of us, regardless of race, religion, or creed, has to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that different opinions or values are less valid than our own. You and I may disagree, but for me to wag my finger at you and say, “I’m right, you’re wrong, now let me teach you the truth”- that would be foolish and ineffective. If you really want someone to listen to you, you must be willing to listen to them first. Right?

As always, comments, questions, disagreements, etc. are welcome below…

  1. Edwin Christian says:

    I agree 100%! I have found over my 67 years on God’s earth, that most conflicts could have been advoided with a little conversation.I put myself into situations that I later regretted several times in my life and truth be known, I will probably still step on my own toes once in a while because of my misguided pride. My prayer is that I learn to stop and think before engaging my mouth.
    There is really no right way or wrong way to do most things in this world and there are plenty of grey areas to dance around. I as a Christian also have certain prinicpals I will not bend, but will listen to what you have to say and offer my opinion. Thanks for the article Jared.

  2. Sandra says:

    Reminds me of Screwtape Letters…whenever I feel like I must choose a side, I am learning to stop and decide if its really necessary. Thanks for the post.

    Oh, and I’m working on what order of importance on the list of people should be in…definitely think professor is last but can you tell me what kind of truck I’m driving?? haha, so kidding

  3. Joel Hollier says:

    I agree with your sentiments that we should all strive to remove the beam from our own eyes before pointing out the splinter in our brother’s; however, I don’t believe that completely illustrates the point being discussed. First, I don’t believe that the people saying they don’t go to church because they find Christians too judgmental are being completely honest, but are using one “easy” statement as a means to not have to fully discuss a controversial topic. More directly to the point though, I believe that Christians should as individuals and as a group make a strong effort not to appear judgmental and definitely not attempt to defend such behavior if it is pointed out; that would be hypocritical. I think a better approach would be apology for any behavior that could be construed as going against the ideals that you strive for, and the conviction to improve.

    Sadly, in the case of “the church” I think it is the organizational level of judgment that occurs. Although it may not be true of specific congregations or individuals within those congregations, “the church” as a loosely identified entity has a long history of being judgmental. It is not fair that a religion that follows the teachings of Christ (i.e. acceptance and unconditional love) be defined by the poorest examples thereof, but I think it is the charge of the individuals within each congregation to set themselves apart from the negative connotations associated with the “better than thou” voices within the greater body.

    • Jared says:

      I totally agree, and obviously the smartest option is to get to know individuals instead of passing judgment on “the group” as a whole, whether that group is political, religious, ethnic, or anything else. To say, “All Christians are judgmental,” is on par with saying, “All Southerners are uneducated. All Democrats smoke pot. All Catholics are drunks.” Don’t be that guy. That guy is a narrow-minded idiot….and he’s probably from Alabama- because you know everybody from Alabama is-…..just kidding.

  4. Judy Hall says:

    I think one of the main things I like about you, Jared, is your pure honesty! You don’t sugar-coat things. You speak the God’s word and you live it. I think you set a great example for all of us. You are constantly learning more about our savior, never accepting a simple answer, you want the details! I am so thankful for that.
    “Maybe one day I’ll be wise, experienced, and mature enough to keep all that in check, but for now I’m still a work in progress, and if you take a deep breath and are honest with yourself, you are, too.” I could not agree with you more on this. Everyone of us, if we are honest with ourselves, will continue to be a work in progress until we go to be with our Father in Heaven. Because when his work is finished within us and through us, it is time for us to go home.
    I look forward to learning more and more about my God and my christianity every day. I told someone the other day that I get such wonderful lessons when I am in God’s house, I want to be there every day to learn more!
    I know God has a path for me to take and I pray daily that I am on that path. I pray that I can change my ways from being judgemental of others and be more judgemental of myself, keep myself in check. I don’t think this means that I should just totally forget about others and not care what I do, but I should handle situations with more grace, know when to keep my mouth shut, and when it is time to speak, let God give me the words to say. If you know me, that is a giant leap for me! My mouth has gotten me in more sticky situations, for lack of a better term, than I care to mention, but I have learned, finally, that if I just take a deep breath, say a prayer and ask God for the words, He will give them to me. And his words are much more likely to be heard than my rantings.
    Thank you for this entry Jared. I needed to hear it today.
    Oh and, I think you are a fantastic pastor. You could handle the crowds of thousands, because you let God lead you. Thank you for being my pastor.
    God Bless and have a great day!

  5. Mandy Cooper says:

    I know I’m a little late on this one, but I felt I needed to comment.
    There is a fine line we as Christians walk. We’ve got to be careful not to be judgmental, but we are supposed to teach what the Bible teaches. There are many issues in the Bible that ARE black & white & people need to know what the Bible teaches. If we step on toes then you’re probably doing something you’re not supposed to be. If it hurts you’re feelings, then I’m sorry, but that’s what God teaches. & of course I’m not talking about politicians or football teams. The Bible does teach us about marriage, how to raise our children, & how to interact with each other in a loving way. AND that’s how we have to enter into discussions with each other on those “touchy” areas.
    Love you & keep up the Good work!

    • Jared says:

      I think you nailed it when you said, “interact with each other in a loving way.” That’s the key- speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15)

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