Some international friends wanted to see a classic American movie, so one Friday night my husband and I bought pizza and soda and had our friends over for dinner and a movie. Our choice was To Kill a Mocking Bird, starring Gregory Peck. We gave them an historical overview of the movie’s era, described the issues facing our nation, lowered the lights and began the movie.
We got to the poignant courtroom scene when the falsely accused African American, Tom Robinson tearfully and vehemently denied having violated a white woman. Our friends were at the edge of their seats when one of them burst out laughing. No one said a thing. My brain went right to its default judgement mode. Was something lost in translation or was our friend just plain weird? Who knew? Did it really matter? What was important was that God had brought these folks into my home for me to care for them, not to judge them. Looking at the situation through that lens helped push those crippling judgmental thoughts aside.
It’s just as important that I lose that judgmental attitude with fellow believers. Paul calls me to a life in community that isn’t defined by the narrow confines of my opinions. It’s an extraordinary thing when a group of people choose to honor and submit to one another out of their love for God. Judging others provides a facade of superiority and keeps me from drawing closer to others and God. I like what Paul’s has to say to believers:
It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly–or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgement, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture…” Romans 14:7-11. The Message.
Lord, Forgive me when I have been self-serving and deceived about my own importance as your follower. Teach me how to love and serve my brothers and sisters as you have loved them. Let me grab hold and live the vision of bowing down before you, side by side with my brothers and sisters. Amen.