It seems to me that I have a new gauge for myself. It’s unfortunate, but it still runs through my mind.
I have written volumes on “Legalism,” and I don’t think anyone that’s a regular reader will be surprised by me saying that I hate it. It goes against all things ‘love’. There is no grace, there is no mercy, there is no forgiveness, and all things judgement when we fall into the realm of legalism. But enough about that, and onto the topic at hand...my gauge.
Recently I’ve been working a job with men and women that would probably be considered rough around the edges. Just to give you an idea of my job; most use the F-word as a noun, adjective, and verb...some all in the same sentence. No joke is funny unless it’s either racist, sexist, or both. Most smoke like a chimney. And our annual Christmas party consists of an open bar and karaoke with many poor renditions of ‘Friends in Low Places’. But I love these guys and gals. It makes me happy to see these people make light of a dirty, hard job. It’s not easy to tear down a burnt, four wheel drive John Deere in under a week. But the man that can and still end the week with a smile on their face (even if he’s smiling because of the last off-color joke just said) and still punch in on time Monday morning is more a man than most. It takes a lot of commitment and humility to work at a place like Ag Parts. It’s not a pretty job, it’s not a clean job, there’s no parade or ceremony if we make budget, but these guys have worked hard for more years than most, and can go home and enjoy their families. This is what I like. These people I don’t feel judged by, these people I’d call on a weekend to hang out with.
Now the gauge.
This past weekend my roommate from college and close friend, Garrett, held his bachelor party. Seven of us were in attendance. We visited the Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls, WI. It was a great time. Last year Garrett, two other friends, and I toured the Schell’s Brewery in New Ulm, MN. It’s become a good reason for us to spend a weekend together in brotherhood and learn a little bit more about something we enjoy...beer. Many times through college we’d have our beer and Bible study nights drinking our favorite brews while engaging in study and Christian fellowship. Basically it was what kept us accountable through our massive hormonal and maturing process that takes place in college.
This last weekend was a great weekend. We caught up on what was happening in each other’s lives. We spent long hours talking through different things we were worried about, struggling with, and anything in between. We did this of course while drinking nice brews, sipping fine whiskeys and enjoying some great cigars. All the while we were growing deeper in what I would consider Christian brotherhood. And here’s where the gauge falls in. The whole time I was wondering, “Is this what I got fired at the church for?” or, “The church would fire me for sure if they knew I was doing this,” and the most frequent thought was, “If they knew about this, for sure they wouldn’t think of me as a Christian.”
My question is: in our world of progressive Christianity, Christian conservatism, and general immorality throughout, why do we still feel it necessary to judge others? Now I’m no saint in this either. I’ll be honest, there are times where I’ll hear about someone, see how someone’s dressed, or just a general first impression that basically amounts to me looking for the speck in their eye. And this isn’t a rare occurrence either. Maybe some of you saints will think me a dirty sinner, but that’s kind of been par for the course. Maybe we’re just preprogrammed to think of ourselves better than others? Or maybe we see ourselves as sacrificing so much for the church and therefore when we think of somebody that may not be as holy as us, we look down upon them? Or maybe it’s just a big barrel of hog wash and we should get over ourselves. We’ll tell the world that our lives should revolve around Christ. So why do we still think that everyone needs to live up to our standards? Why do we still compare ourselves to everyone? Do we not truly believe it when we talk about living sacrifices and the continual pursuit of righteousness? Or maybe we believe too much that righteousness is a destination and not the journey that it actually is. If righteousness were a destination in this world, then we’d have those that have achieved it and those that haven’t, and either/or situation. If this were the case, then there would definitely be a place in this world for judgement. But if this were the case, it’d just boil down to our silly illegal immigration debate that we seem to never get through in our country.
So what’s the answer? We need to truly look at ourselves, judge ourselves properly first. Do exactly what Christ did with the men who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. Those that are blameless, cast the first stone. If you’re not blameless, drop your stone and come join the rest of us.