Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Judge Not

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:1-2

Yes, that's me with some purple streaks in my hair. It's approaching summer, my school year is over, and I shall wear purple (even though I am not old).

It's been interesting to see the reactions. Most people like it. Some think I'm crazy. Those who know me aren't surprised. I've heard a lot of, "Only you could pull that off."  I like that. I live out loud. I'm not afraid to experiment with my looks. It adds to my "artsy-ness" without offending anyone.

Well, almost anyone. 

One of the lessons our pastor has focused on in the last week is telling our story to the world. One of his points was that, in order to tell a story, there must be an audience. I have found in the last year that my foot tattoo (a simple "run with perseverance" in cursive) opened multiple opportunities to talk about running, perseverance, and God. My story found an audience--and that opens doors. I suspect my fun hair will do the same. And that is the mandate of the Church: go, make disciples, teach....

I wasn't really surprised, but I was disappointed in a couple of reactions from people who publicly say their first priorities are ministry with excellence.  Rather than smile and stay silent if they didn't have anything nice to say, they made a point to be critical. It's not the first time I've been judged for not conforming to some standard, but in the middle of this sermon series, it really bothers me.

It bothers me because, in large part, the traditional church is failing at the very commands Jesus emphasized: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. If people in the church can't treat each other with genuine respect, especially about things that are merely superficial (like hair color), then how can they be trusted to reach and teach the lost? 

In the grand scheme of eternity, what does it matter how many earrings one wears or the color of hair or style of clothing make? Isn't it far more important to connect with people on every level? Isn't it more important to treat each other with respect--even if we disagree with their personal choices about inconsequential things? 

Jesus spent his time with the people, the sinners, the lost, and the spiritually needy. He vigorously chastised the "established" church of Pharisees, and instead pointed to the Father as the standard for behavior. Modern Pharisees, even though they may look like other church members, are just as damaging to the cause of Christ as the first century religious rulers. Jesus insisted that love precedes judgement, not the other way around. That practice needs to begin within the church before it can really be effective in the world.


Rebecca Erwin said...

This is the precise soap box I have been screaming from for years. It is the main reason I struggle with attending corporate church. When I do, I don't make friends right away. It typically takes me a year of observation and listening before I reach out. I would rather love those outside the church than be friends with those inside.

Ellen Palmer said...

Stephanie, you are SO right. Stats show that that is why we are losing so many young people is because they feel the church is hyporcritical. Good example is our oldest son. When he was 17, he went thru a very artsy phase with his hair. He was super active in church and youth group...loving and living his life for the Lord. Well, the blue hair phase ended up getting him pulled from playing music on the church platform. A very talented young man, writing his own worship songs and that was that. And you know what comes next...not loved there, he found other things to fill it. He is a wonderful young man and I know someday he will come back to a walk with God, but talk about hurtful. One wonders just how many people are denied chances each day, just because they "look" different. oh, and by the way, I love your look! If my hair wasnt so dark, I might even consider it. Take care.