When I got home Becky and I had a glass of iced tea together and reviewed our day. Interestingly we both had a similar conversation with people who had harsh judgmental experiences in church. I shared a beautiful statement said to me today, “Pastor, I don’t want to be the judge of whether someone goes to heaven or hell.”
I don’t either! Jesus told us that the angels will separate the wheat (believers) from the tares (unbelievers) at the end of the age. (Matthew 13:24-30) It would be so easy for me to confuse the wheat with the tares.
There is a huge difference between insightful discernment and the good judgment anchored in love to live for God and in service of others. Judgmental people are merciless. People with good judgment are full of mercy!
Bashford Bishop, my wisdom literature professor in college, was our Sunday morning pulpit guest, years ago. This humble and humorous professor told our congregation that morning, “I am capable of any heinous sin that you could imagine.” The he made a terrible list of sins and concluded that we used good judgment and discernment not to criticize others but to intercede for them before The Lord in prayer. It was a moment I will never forget.
In the gospels when people met Christ, he loved and to as many as would receive Him, he transformed their lives. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12-13, NLT)
I want people at Woodland experiencing what Zachaeus, Mary Magdalene, and myself experienced when encountering Jesus Christ, mercy and grace. I want so much for us to be transformed like they were. More than anything I want God for our congregation and community.