Jesus Gave the World the Right to Judge Christians
Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world. He didn’t give his followers the right to judge or condemn the world either. Yet one would think that American Christians (I write from this perspective because I am one) have this notion that it’s our job to judge the world telling them how bad they are. It seems like we have this idea that we must defend the Bible and God by telling the world how much God is against them.
This is an unbiblical idea.
It is not the way that God set things up.
It’s not how Jesus lived.
Jesus actually gave the world the right to judge Christians.
Before we get to that fully let’s look at what the apostle Paul told the Christians at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NLT)
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. 12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. 13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (emphasis added)
Paul makes a bold statement that flies in the face of what many Christians do today. Paul tells us that it wasn’t his responsibility to judge outsiders (those outside the church). So, why does the church judge people today that aren’t in the church? And why do we get so upset when they call our hand at being judgmental?
Christians tell those outside the church how bad and sinful they are. We tell them how much God is against them. We make them more alienated from God and the Church when we are supposed to be ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of love. Yet, Paul declares that he has no business judging those outside the Church.
There’s enough wrong doing in the Church that needs to be dealt with before we could even think about telling the world how bad off they are.
God’s kingdom is full of upside down thinking: the last shall be first; it’s better to give than receive; love your enemies; bless those that persecute you. I want to add another idea to this upside thinking: the world has the right to judge Christians.
Yes, you read that correctly. I said that the world has the right to judge Christians.
And Jesus is the one that gave them that right.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus tells the disciples that he is giving them a new commandment.
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Notice that the qualifying identity of a Christian is our love for one another. If we don’t have love for one another then we are not truly followers of Christ. This love will prove to the world our dedication and devotion to Christ. This gives the world a litmus test for those calling themselves Christians.
If they don’t see our love for others then they can rightly assume that we are not followers of Jesus. In effect, Jesus has given them the right to judge us.
Christians don’t have the right to judge the world, but the world has the right to judge Christians. I don’t think that you will hear too many sermons on that. Unfortunately we hear far too many sermons on how bad the world is and how it’s our responsibility to tell the world how bad they are. Reread Paul’s words to the Corinthians. That’s not our responsibility!
The world has the right to look at how well we love others. I can tell you that right now they are not seeing the American Church loving each other very well, and I don’t think we are loving those outside the church very well either.
We are known more for what we hate and stand against than what we are for and for our love.
I’ve been a follower of Jesus for over 30 years now. I can tell you that “Christian” people can sometimes be some of the most hateful, hurtful and mean people. It shouldn’t be this way.
Our command from Jesus was that we would love others as he loved us. There are no restrictions or qualifiers on whether or not we get to love someone. We love them because Jesus loves us. We love them HOW he loves us — which is without restrictions or qualifiers. We just simply love.
As the world sees this love then they will know that we are truly followers of Jesus.
Now, please do not hear what I am not saying. Just because I love someone doesn’t mean that I approve of everything they do or have done. It just means that I can look beyond their actions and see them as a person that Jesus died for. I can see their worth, not based on what they have done, but on the basis of what Jesus did for them.
I can love them regardless of what they have done because Jesus loves me in spite of all that I have done.
I do not get to set the value and worth of anyone, including myself! Our value is set by our Creator! He set the value of us as the life of his son. So when I see the value that Jesus puts upon people I can only love them as He loves them.
As I love them, as He loves me, then the world will see that I am his follower.
They have the right to judge us by our love. They have the right to judge me by my love for others.
Don’t get upset if we are not measuring up and they call our hand on it!
Question: Why do you think that Christians aren’t as loving as we should be? Why do we feel the need to judge, condemn and hate those that are “on the outside” considering that a lot of us were once on the outside.