STOP JUDGING AND START ENGAGING
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We Christians MUST stop judging people. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world and expect to reach it with the good news of Jesus at the same time.
No one can keep from coming into contact with people, ideas, and influences in society that have the potential to corrupt us. This does bring about a bit of a dilemna for believers on a day to day basis: How should those who follow Christ respond when put in an environment that embraces sin, dismisses injustice, or invites (or at least tolerates) immoral behavior?
Michael Metzger, as quoted in Gabe Lyon’s The Next Christians (p. 75) has said, “When confronted with the corruption of our world – Christians ought to be provoked to engage, not offended and withdrawn.”
He makes a great point because the tendency is for believers to separate themselves from “sinful people and activities.” In an attempt to dedicate themselves to God, they end up creating a sort of safe-haven which winds up causing them to neglect the very people God has called them to love. There is no transformation, encouragement or missional relationships occuring when this happens.
Jesus continually fellowshipped with the outcasts of society. He put Himself in the middle of their sins and showed them nothing but unconditional love. And who is it that judged Him for doing so? Who is it that criticized Him for doing this? It was the self-righteous religious leaders, the Pharisees.
Sinners loved Jesus. They followed him from town to town. They wanted to be with Him, to be near Him. He spent a lot of time meeting their friends and families, sharing meals with them, accepting tokens of appreciation from them, and conversing with them regularly. Jesus genuinely and authentically loved them.
A man named Zaccheus was a Jewish tax collector who worked for the Romans. As most tax collectors of his time, he would regularly steal money from what he collected and he got quite wealthy doing so. While his wealth increased, others struggled. Zaccheus had become a corrupt traitor to the Jews. To them he was the scum of the earth. But guess how Jesus responded? He wasn’t offended by Zaccheus’ ways, instead, He invited Himself over to Zaccheus’ house for dinner. An act of acceptance and friendship was demonstrated by Jesus to one who many considered to be the “chief of sinners” (Luke 19).
“Or take the woman at the well (Jn. 4). There were several reasons for a Jewish rabbi like Jesus to avoid her:
She was a woman (strike one; Jewish rabbis did not converse with women when alone), she was a
Samaritan (strike two; Jews hated Samaritans), and she was sexually promiscuous (strike three; now
explanation needed). But Jesus engaged her” (Lyons, Gabe. The Next Christians, p. 77).
There are many other examples that could be cited, but the point is that it doesn’t appear Jesus cared how those who were considered the religious elite viewed these people. Jesus continued to engage them time and time again despite the judgment He received.
We cannot be afraid to engage with our culture for fear of getting our hands dirty. Sharing the love of Christ with others is much more effective when it is done by actions as opposed to words. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should compromise the truth in any way, shape or form. What I’m saying is we need to share this truth in a way that is going to build people up and not tear them down.