Fasting from Judgment (Day 7)
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
Yesterday, we talked about the difference between judging and discerning, both of which happen on individual and corporate levels. Groups of Christians, whether we are talking about congregations, denominations, or even global church communities, are required to discern God’s guidance on moral issues. Most recently, the United Methodist Church entered a time of fierce discernment, debate, and decision making over issues of sexuality. Just as faithful, intelligent and prayerful individual Christians can be led by the Holy Spirit to different conclusions, so too large bodies of Christians often end up divided over issues which are not clearly defined in the Scriptures. Please be in prayer for our Methodist brothers and sisters worldwide as they struggle through these decisions and the impact they have on their members and their public witness.
Corporate discernment, however, crosses the line into judgment when people use a policy or moral standard as a weapon against groups of people. Jesus’ caution not to judge, lest we be judged, guides corporate church bodies to refrain from pointing to one group as being particularly sinful over other groups of people.
The distinction made by Augustine to “hate the sin, but love the sinner” is also critically important as the Church seeks to hold to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Being prophetic about what God calls us to do (and not to do) cannot take place without love. Loving people cannot take place without reference to what God calls us to do (and not do). Law and Gospel are to be held in tandem, each holding the other accountable.
First and foremost, we are all children of God – broken and sinful – forgiven and empowered. Here in Holy Week, we see the depth of Christ’s love and sacrifice and ultimately it is only God who has the power to judge.
Let us pray,
Lord God, guide your church everywhere to be places of love and conviction, speaking both truth and grace. Forgive us for the ways we have born a witness of hatred rather than love, division rather than unity, even violence in place of peace. We pray in the name of the one who said to the criminal “Today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our devotions on the “Fasting from . . .” series comes to a close as we turn towards the reading of the Passion of Jesus Christ. We pray that these devotions have served as a path towards a deeper faith in Jesus, reliance upon his grace, and guidance in our lives. We do so in hopes of more fully experiencing and sharing the grace so freely given by God. Thank you for your faithful study and reflection during this series.
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Tags: devotions, fasting, judgment, Lent