Judge not?

Once again, the church is at such opposite poles on sin and judgment that we’ve missed the point altogether.

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On one side, you have people who will judge you all day long. They’ll never let a gay person set foot in their church. They won’t take a picture with someone holding a glass of sparkling grape juice for fear it would end up on Instagram and they would wrongly be associated with people who drink.

On the other, you have people who will accept anybody with no conditions. They’ll tell you they’re more like Jesus than the others, and they’ll let a gay person come in church and never say anything against their lifestyle. They’ll say that we’ll lose the battle against making abortion illegal anyway, so just let people do what they want and love them.

I’ve held both of these opinions at some point in my life, and I’ve learned neither of them are biblical, neither of them actually follow Jesus’ example, and both of them will lead people straight to hell.

Those of us who are holier than thou are distorting the gospel because we make ourselves out to be better than the people we judge, even though the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). When we focus so much on someone’s sin that that’s all we see, we forget that God looked at us when we were just as bad, if not worse, as “those people” and loved us in spite of our sin. He saved us while we were still sinners.

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To condemn others is to misrepresent the grace that we accepted. Jesus himself ate and drank with “sinners,” and to not do the same is to say we’re better than our Savior (Luke 5:30).

But those of us who just want to love everyone are also distorting the gospel by letting people live in their sin and miss out on God’s grace. Jesus ate and drank with “sinners,” but he didn’t stop there. Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and loved him, but he told him to go and sell everything he loved more than God. Then the ruler left, and Jesus let him leave, because Jesus loved him too much to let him keep living in idolatry (Mark 10:17-22).

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If we claim to love sinners too much to tell them what they’re doing is wrong, we “love” them straight into hell. They’ll never realize they’re not good enough to merit God’s favor if we don’t tell them. They’ll never experience real saving grace because all they get is false grace from someone who’s afraid to come across as judgmental.

So what did Jesus actually do when it came to judging and loving? He had a perfect balance. He didn’t marginalize people because of what they did, but he loved them enough to tell them they were sinful and in need of a Savior.

It’s so easy for me to go on one side of this or another. Living like Jesus is hard. But just think of how many more people the church would reach if we actually followed the model Jesus lived for us and didn’t leave out any of the gospel, whether that’s the love portion or the judgment portion.

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