We’re all familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church people. According to them, God hates everyone and everything, and everything bad is from God and is directly related to the things God hates.
But they claim to be Christians. Sure. Remember, “Christian” is anything you want. These people are not disciples. There is no love from this group.
As Christians, we’re have a unique way of interacting with others. We have a different moral standard than others, but we aren’t called to judge non-believers. We are called to love them. Jesus never said “Therefore go and judge”, he said “Go, make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19).
Tonight I had the chance to see an early screening of “Blue Like Jazz”, the movie. It’s been a little over a year since I last read the book, and honestly I have forgotten much of what I read. Before tonight I never connected the book to Andy’s “What is Christian” series. But after seeing the movie, all I could think was “this is exactly what Andy preached about yesterday!”
I won’t ruin the ending of the movie, so I’ll refer to the book instead.
Towards the end of the book, Donald Miller and the few other Christians on campus set up a confessional during Renn Fayre at Reed College. This is a multiday party after exams and unlike anything you’ve probably experienced. The idea was not that students would confess to them, but that they would confess, as Christians, to the students.
In the book and movie it’s made clear that Reed College is not a place for Christians. At Reed, all the worst stereotypes about Christians are believed. Being a Christian is not cool or acceptable, it’s stupid and intellectually irresponsible.
Donald and his friends chose to not judge the other students for their beliefs–or lack of beliefs. They chose to own up to their own beliefs and to be honest about them to others. They chose to love the students at Reed College.
In the movie (I’m not sure if this quote is in the book), Donald’s character tells another student: “I’m sorry for misrepresenting Christ.” I loved that line. Donald wasn’t judging his friend who didn’t believe the same things he did. He was loving him by apologizing for not living up to the things he claimed to believe in.
At one point in the movie, one of the characters essentially says: “I’m agnostic. But I respect a religious person who has the balls to stand up for what they believe in.”
In the Bible we are not called to be “out of this world”, we are called to be “in the world, but not of the world” (John 17:6-16).
Although I am a free man and not anyone’s [slave], I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.
1 Corinthians 9:19 HCSB
Donald and his friends very much lived in the world–and for a while, lived of the world–but eventually he chose to live in the world, but not of the world. But he didn’t choose to judge them.
In one of his letters, Paul instructed the believers in Corinth on this matter. Some pretty bad stuff was doing on the Church there and it needed to be addressed. Paul wrote to them that they were getting things all wrong. Instead of judging the believes among them, they were only judging non-believers.
I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. For what [business] is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 HCSB
I really liked Andy’s illustration to explain this on Sunday. As a parent, he said, I care if my child does his homework. He lives in my house, under my rules. But I don’t care if your child does his homework because he doesn’t live under my rules. “It’s not my place to judge your child if he doesn’t do his homework, but it is my place to judge my son if he doesn’t do his, because those are our rules.”
As Christians/believers/Jesus followers/disciples, it isn’t our place to judge non-believers. But we are responsible for judging those who call themselves believers. We’re allowed to hold them, and to be held, to a higher level of responsibility and way of living.
Andy summed things up well: Judge the believin’ not the heathen!