You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. (Romans 14:10 NIV)
The other day, one of the kids made a comment about a homeless man sitting at the bus stop. They talked about the fact they see him there a lot. He was dirty. His clothes were torn. We see him on the same bench most days.
The kids started putting him down. They talked about how dirty he was. Why doesn’t he get a job? Why is he always there? When was the last time he bathed? After listening for a few minutes I asked, “What if I told you that guy is a Christian? He dresses like that and hangs out on that bench all day sharing the gospel with anyone he meets.” They got quiet. Then their attitudes changed. Suddenly, he was a hero, not someone to be condemned.
I share this story because I find, as Christians we can become judgmental. My kids made a rash decision about a man they had never met. They assumed he was a low-life when he may be a former soldier. Perhaps he lost his home when the economy went sour. Maybe he lost his whole family in a horrible accident and can’t seem to pull himself together. Or possibly, he’s just a guy sitting on a bench bothering no one. The point is, he’s a man God created and loves. We have no right to pass judgment.
This whole conversation started me thinking Christians. Lately, it seems (and I’m sure it’s always been this way) we separate ourselves from the world. Rather than be ministers of the gospel, we pass judgment. We have almost become cliquish requiring anyone who wants to join to be like us. We think if we mingle with others, they will corrupt us. We will start thinking and acting like them. Or maybe, we are entirely too comfortable.
Jesus had his disciples. He spent time eating and praying and teaching them. But it was always for the purpose of ministering to the people they would come in contact with. He wanted his disciples to love the people as he did. He never pushed them away, only invited them in love. Jesus didn’t require the people to change before they came to him. He only required change after they chose to follow.
I found myself honestly checking my heart after this incident. I want to have eyes to see others as beloved creations of God. Each person has so much potential to make a difference in this world. I have no right to suggest they are anything less because they don’t fit my perception.
Lord, open my eyes to see others as you do. Open my heart to love them as you do. Amen!