“Do Not Judge” What? Was Jesus Crazy?
As human beings living on Earth there is one thing that unites us with a common thread. Whether you are black or white, rich or poor, male or female, American, Chinese, Indian, Australian, African and everything in between, there is a single attribute that we all do…and we do well!
We LOVE to judge!
We judge our spouse…
We judge our work mates…
We judge our children… (and they return the favor)
We judge the homeless man on the street…
We judge the clothes of the person sitting in front of us at church (and behind us as well)
We judge the folk on “reality TV”
We judge the status update of Facebook friends
Conservatives judge liberals…liberals judge conservatives
In comparison to others, Christians have the reputation of being gold medal winning athletes in the sport of “judging”. In fact historically we’ve been pretty good at turning judging into a “full contact” sport!
Which is a pretty remarkable achievement considering Jesus was pretty clear that human beings in general, and his followers specifically, were absolutely NOT to judge others! (Matt. 7: 2-5)
Jesus must have been crazy…
A Man Called Peter
Peter was one of Jesus’ key disciples. Peter also loved to judge people. In fact Jesus had to correct him a number of times whenever his little “ministry gift” reared it’s head. (John 21: 20-22)
But things really came to a head in Acts Chapter 10. God wanted Peter to meet with one of his servants by the name of Cornelius, but he also knew Peter wouldn’t meet with him without a little encouragement.
You see Cornelius was:
* A Gentile (Not of the Jewish nation)
* A Roman ( the colonial power occupying the Jewish nation)
* A Centurion (A powerful military commander of that colonial power)
However, despite having a high office in a polytheistic society, Acts 10 says that Cornelius “and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”
So despite any issues, Peter, being a man of God should have no problem meeting another “God fearing man” right?
Peter, who had walked, ate, and sat under Jesus’ personal teaching for three years and heard over and over again how much God wanted to bless all nations and peoples, still would not (and could not) believe that God would actually want him to associate with a foreigner.
To fellowship with “other”!
The only way God could get into Peter’s thick, stubborn skull that God was bigger than the little “Jewish Christian” world he had created in his mind was direct heavenly intervention. (Acts 10: 9-17)
So Peter, with his new revelation of God’s intent, shows up at Cornelius’ house:
While talking with him (Cornelius), Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean
Acts 10: 28-29
Translation: “Even though I might see you as unclean, God says I shouldn’t judge you, so here I am”
Wow, way to win over a crowd Peter! Despite Peter’s rough greeting though, God’s Grace is revealed and Cornelius, his family, and his friends gain a deeper revelation of God through Jesus Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit.
And Peter? Peter gets yet another lesson of how big God is and how big his love is for the world.
Not Judging…Grace’s Best Kept Secret
Sometimes I think we forget how freeing the Grace of God really is!
Consider Peter’s situation above.
Poor Peter had to spend his whole life judging people, actions, and objects as either clean or unclean, pure or impure! You know how nerve wracking and demanding that actually is?
Can you imagine having to spend your whole day doing these little mental calculations?
Eventually, you get tired of it so more and more you just associate into small, like minded groups that free you of the burden of possibly having to associate with someone or something that is unclean!
In the Christian world we call these “churches” 🙂
But God has freed us from the bondage of having to judge people
“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Acts 10:15
However, in our desire to remain “holy” and “clean”, Christianity has transferred the Old Covenant laws pertaining to purity (and the huge burden it implies) into modern church life. Even when God says we are NOT to do that!
What a tremendous relief and blessing it must have felt for Peter to be freed from the need to judge.
And you know what?
You can be free too?
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