I was in a Peloton class not too long aog that had a focus, and the focus was faith.
Yes, you read that right, it was like Peloton meets church, and if you know anything about me, you know that I was literally on cloud 9. But as an acoustic version of O Come To the Altar by Elevation Worship was playing, the instructor Ally Love, said this:
Whatever judgement you are holding on to, let it go. Judgement of yourself, judgement of me, judgment of them.
That. Hit. Me.
If there is one thing I remember in my first 10 years in the church, it wasn’t what I heard the priest say, it is what my dad said, and then did. If I were to describe my dad by any one thing he taught me, it would be this; who are we to judge anyone, that is up to God. I couldn’t count the amount of times that he said some variation of this to me growing up. But it was how he lived that really engrained it into my head. My parents are devout catholics; they were greeters every Sunday, Eucharistic Ministers and our family never missed mass. But I liked to think of my parents as rebels in the church. In a very conservative church, there were many ways that someone could feel excluded or not welcomed. But if they met my dad, they would be none the wiser.
My dad would often explain to me how many times in his life he wished people hadn’t judged him, so why would he make someone else feel the pain, sadness, and exclusion he had experienced. My parents are celebrating 47 years of marriage this year! When they were married in 1974, they were judged. My mom’s family was not happy she was marrying a brown man and my dad’s family was not happy he was marrying a white woman. My dad always said, “why does it matter”... to this day he speaks about knowing someone’s character before judging their appearance. People with tattoos, people who identify with the LBGTQ community, people of color, no matter who it was or what others might say, he would say “that is my brother or sister” and would invite them in and ask them to stay. And to be honest, it wasn’t until this past year that I really understood the gratitude I have for my parents, and these values they have lived by.
Judgment of others...
James 4:11 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not judge whether it applies to you. 12 God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?”
The reason I wanted to share all of this with you today is because for me, in 2020, I lost sight of this.
Last year was hard.
The world seemed to be crashing and everywhere I turned there seemed to be pain, hatred, racism, and massive discord. And in my attempts to grasp at, well anything, I was trying to find someone to blame. I let people’s actions of hatred plant a seed of judgment inside my heart, and I have never felt so much evil in my life. I not only observed the world around me, I started to cast judgement. I struggled with the genuine battle of telling myself that the moment I start to judge someone else, I really should look inward, and figure out what I could do, what actions I could take, to fight injustice and evil and align myself closer to God, not further.
This made me think about a couple weeks ago when on a Sunday, Travis dove into (what I would call) a mini sermon, talking about being a peacemaker in a time where there seems to be no peace. He said in order to be a peacemaker you have to stand with the oppressed, pray for your enemies, and stay humble. Pray for your enemies. In 2020, that was personally the biggest challenge I felt from God. Matthew 7:1 says, Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. The simple truth is when you judge someone, you are assuming a position of authority over them, but that authority lies in God, and God alone.
Now I want to be clear that we can hold people accountable, without casting judgment. We can stand with the oppressed, without casting judgment, we can pray for our enemies, without casting judgment, and we can stay humble, without casting judgment. The realization I have come to tonight is when we stand aligned with God, we will naturally align with good.
So as I continue my journey into 2021, I will work my way back to who God calls us to be and who my parents raised to be. I will remind myself that accountability is not the same as judgment. And that when I feel that seed of judgment building, I need to look inward and lean towards God.
So let’s do this together Canvas. Let’s release that judgment;
Judgement of yourself, judgement of me, judgment of them,
and breathe into who God calls us to be for each other, for our community, and for the world.