According to Matthew 18:15–17 (NIV): “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” So how should you treat a tax collector? Well, Matthew was a tax collector before Jesus showed him love in His call for Apostleship, not judgement.
The way of the Kingdom is that you can’t love and judge at the same time. As Paul the Apostle preached, love is above all; he didn’t even judge himself, he just left judgement to the Holy Spirit. Judgement works against the Kingdom assignment of love, sentencing others to disapproval. Love is ascribing worth to others at cost to self, and judgement is vice versa. To judge is to play God.
Jesus trained the Apostles to not judge during the Sermon on the Mount, as part of the countercultural discipleship in the Kingdom: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1 NIV). Love and non-judgement is the overarching theme of the New Covenant: the identity-restoring New Testament. Christianity is not about making us a superior people, rather, it is about being recreated, born again in the image of Christ to receive love and give love.
1 Corinthians 5:12 (NIV) says “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”, yet Christians continue to judge others. But how do we let the world know that we are all sinners? We don’t, we simply don’t. John 16:8 (NIV) says “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” This is a level playing field for all.
According to John 8:11 (NIV) Jesus said to the woman caught by the Pharisees over adultery, “Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin”, thereby speaking into her free future — this is the gift of grace. The Pharisees approached this matter with arrogant pride to test Jesus’ willingness to judge, pronouncing others wrong and themselves right. They used her mistake as a reason to stand on the moral high ground, and throw stones. That is not the Jesus we serve, otherwise he “who is without sin can throw the first stone” (John 8:7 NIV).
The purpose of Christianity is to see through a different lens, from a different context, and from a different reality, and call people into the same reality known as the Kingdom of God. However, it must be asked, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NIV). Our own sin distorts our vision, where we see our own plank, when really it’s just a speck of sawdust. We are biased by our own sin, unaware of the true motives in others’ hearts, ignorant of the complexities of other people’s lives.
Judgement will not bring change and transformation into somebody’s life, as it is making a declaration about another’s identity, not just their actions, which leaves no room for grace. Sin should not be ignored, but sin should be discerned instead. Discernment is looking past the fault to see the person and their heart. The gift of discernment is given so that we can understand the depth of grace and mercy that is required to flow from our lives to others to bring transformation.
The gift of discernment is an invitation into somebody else’s story and pain, so that we can bring healing, redemption, and freedom that Jesus paid for with his life. Don’t withhold the gift of grace that’s been given to us to give to others to enter the life of freedom. The Old Covenant (Testament) was a lot of “thou shall”, unable to deal with the human condition, because it’s cheaper and easier to tell someone what to do and what not to do. Love is costly because it reveals others’ identities in a place of refuge. God doesn’t coerce us into repentance, rather we are called to melt the hearts of others in love, no questions asked. We were all Matthews once, still are, or will be.
If Christians want to change the world, they need to start with the plank in their own eye first. Faith needs resistance in order to grow. If Christians want their identity as Christians to be respected, then they need to respect LGBT identity, and vice versa. Holding strong beliefs on say, marriage and sexuality requires mutual humility, that one might be wrong despite being confident in their position.
In any case, at the end of every storm, there is a rainbow of hope waiting for all. :)