Daily Readings: Exodus 33-34, Psalm 28, Romans 2
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
If you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Romans 2:1, 17-24
All throughout his ministry here on Earth, Jesus preached this message. After his death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven; Paul picked up the torch and carried it on behalf of Jesus. When we spend all of our time judging others, driving wedges, and condemning; we give non-believers all of the ammo they need to blaspheme God’s name to other non-believers.
When we pick out our favorite sin to isolate and speak out against it as Christians, we only alienate. We give others, that do not yet know Jesus, the chance to take a magnifying glass to our lives and say, “Really? You have it all together? You are perfect and without sin?”
How often have you heard a non-believer say something along the lines of, “If that is what being Christian looks like, I am not interested!”
Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
I think that is the prevailing thought amongst many agnostics today. There are so many people that are not sure exactly what they believe, feel something missing in their lives, are not sure what it is, but when they see the Christian Church doing mostly condemning and dividing; they decide quickly that, whatever they are missing, Christianity isn’t it! God’s name is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles.
Jesus spent his time preaching a gospel of love. He wanted his followers to heal the sick, care for the poor, and spread the message that the God of the Universe loved each and every one of us so much that he chose to come in human form and give up his own life so that we may be saved.
None of us are capable of perfection. That is why God sent his only son on our behalf in the first place. When we preach a gospel of “condemnation of sin” instead of a gospel of “radical, beautiful, undeserved grace” we give folks who do not yet know Jesus all the ammo they need to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” You are just another hypocritical Christian.
However, contrast that with the gospel that Jesus and Paul preached. Compare that with the gospel of love.
Jesus wants an army of followers willing to reach out to others in all of our brokenness, not trying to put on a mask of perfection, but vulnerably saying, “Yeah, I am messed too. I continually fall short. I am trying to be more like Christ every day, but every single day fall short in some way or another. I am so thankful that God loves me exactly where I am and was willing to come along side of me with all of my faults, baggage, and hang-ups. I am so thankful that Jesus willingly paid the price for me, knowing that I would trip and fall over and over again, despite my best efforts. I just want you to know that he loves you too. A lot. Exactly where you are and where you have been. He wants a relationship with you, today. He isn’t waiting for you to get yourself “cleaned up and polished” before wanting to come into your life. He wants to join in the fight now. He wants to do the heavy lifting with you. We have all fallen short and will continue to fall short. Jesus loves you like crazy anyway. And that is a pretty exciting thing! I just want you to know that I love you too and would love to walk along side you as you get to know this Jesus guy a little better. I don’t have any interest in judging you. I have enough issues in my own life I am still working through! However, if you ever wanted a sounding board to talk through issues, I will be here.”
This is a gospel that is impossible to “blaspheme amongst the Gentiles”. That is a gospel with the power to change hearts. That is a gospel of transforming love.
Thought to ponder
What has caused me in the past to fall back on a gospel of condemnation of others as well as condemnation of myself, instead of a gospel of radical, beautiful, undeserved grace?