Have you heard this before "It's because I love them that I am telling them about their sin"?
Or something like it?
Look, there's not a Christian I know that would deny that God loves us, all of us. Christ came to teach us about Gods love. Indeed, according to Jesus, the greatest commandment is "Love thy neighbor as thyself". Paul writes that God IS love. Throughout the old and especially the new testament, we learn of Gods love, for he SO loved the world that He gave His only son. That's how we know what Love is.
This is not a new revelation, this is not hard to understand - but it's so hard to manifest. It's so hard to remove judgement. And Christ taught, definitely taught, against judgement (Matthew 7:1). God alone, is to be judge (Psalm 7:11).
However, I often hide behind what I like to call loving judgement, and I don't think I'm the only one.
You see, even though Christ said to love others like the Father loves them - without judgement; even though He tells me to pour my love on everyone, like God lets the rain fall (Matthew 5:45)- on the believers, the non-believers, the Christians, the non-Christians, homosexuals, heterosexuals, drug-free and addicted, the similar-to-me, the 'others', the 'terrorists', the 'anti-terrorists', the warriors, the peacemakers... I don't let it fall like rain.
Instead, I judge.
But look, judgement doesn't always look like a 'nasty thought'. It can look like a prayer.
Lots of times, the prayer looks like this "Lord, save those people, help them change", "Lord, fix them and teach them to turn from their sin".
Now, these prayers in themselves are not bad prayers. Indeed, if out of relationship a person has asked you to pray for them, and this is what the spirit leads you to say - it is a very very powerful prayer that SHOULD be prayed. Maybe it's for your children, or your good friend, or your co-worker, or even a stranger you just met, who has invited you into their life - or maybe its someone whose life you are a part of because God placed you in relationship with them. Yes, in these times, pray these prayers fervently - they are loving.
The judgement pours out of me when I don't know the person who I am praying for. When, without knowing them at all, I decide that I see something that I am assuming they need to fix, or repent from. I fail to see them as God sees them - as already perfect, as already clean, as already redeemed - and then I am falling into judgement. I tell myself that it is because I love them, that I want them to change and so out of love I am praying for them - but without relationship and without invitation - it's just judgement hiding behind love. This is not love falling like rain.
You see, I hide behind judgmental love, and love with judgement is first, judgement.
I don't think I am the only one.
Throughout history, I believe, this is one way that we, the Church, have pushed people away from God. To put judgement before love is to put Gods commandment to love out of place. You see, when we put judgement before love, we tell people that their
sin is bigger than their beauty.We communicate a message to them that
because their robes are dirty, they cannot come before God. And so, many
many people today are afraid to turn to God, or have denied him completely. But God says NO! I can
change your robes, I can make you clean, come to me and I WILL WASH YOU,
I WILL CHANGE YOU. I love you.
First, comes love. If we put love first, judgement disappears. If we were to let love fall like rain, we would enter into relationship with
people before we prayed for their transformation. Then, after pointing
out to them how infinitely valuable they are, how perfectly they were
made, how much God has sought after them - even in their sin - if we're blessed enough, maybe the would invite us to pray for the
deep, dark wounds that lead them into sin to be healed. Here, is where
we can pray the powerful prayer of "Lord, save them from this sin, help them
change". And then, the Spirit works.
Imagine if, as the Church, we all made a daily effort to simply love others, to enter into relationship with them, to have them invite us into the deepest parts of themselves that they are fearing to share before we decide they need fixing. Imagine if we let the Spirit lead them into their own revelation of what need healing. Imagine if we were able to understand the depths of a persons hurt - and then enter into that hurt in solidarity and pray. Instead of pushing people away by pointing out their flaws as strangers, we could help bring a hearts-yearning and desire to be changed directly to God as brothers and sisters- and there, the Lord will meet them. There, the Lord will transform them. There, we can love them.
Can we put away judging love, and simply love?