Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's the Verdict

In our final look at the views young people outside of Christianity we will focus on the view that Christians are judgmental. 87% of young people outside Christianity think that Christians are judgmental. At the same time, 53% of young people inside Christianity agree. As Christians our actions and words come across as judgmental to many and it is something we need to address.
In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus addresses being judgmental. There he says we will be judged by the same standards we judge others. Jesus also warns against pointing out the speck in someone's eye while we have a plank in our own eye.
Here Jesus really wants us to look at ourselves when it comes to judging others. He wants us to turn it around and look in our own eye instead of checking on other people. We are usually quick to judge others and point out their imperfections, but often slow to do this in ourselves. We seem to offer ourselves much more grace than we will offer to others. We are quick to judge people's actions and thoughts. C.S. Lewis has a great quote reminding us of the person we overlook imperfections in the most.
“There is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.”
We tend to give ourselves more grace than we are willing to offer to others. If we can grow in offering the grace we give ourselves to others, we would probably be viewed less as judgmental and more as caring and loving people.
One thing I want us to consider here is how this judgmental view of Christianity connects with our churches. We are called to be the body of Christ as a collective group of people. Many Christians will tell you that their church or group is not judgmental and is loving and welcoming, but if 87% of young outsides feel we are judgmental that has to have some connection to how our churches are viewed. How can we make our church more loving?
I think we can address this issue of being seen as judgmental by getting to know people different than us. Many times we tend to judge those who are different than us. We tend to gather around those who are similar. As Christians we need to be connecting and building relationships with those different than us. This is not to be done as a checklist, but as an intentional pursuit of getting to know varying points of view. When we get to know these people with different points of view we can hopefully see the real people behind the faces we often judge.
Currently the verdict is that Christians are judgmental. Christians need to learn to follow Jesus' instruction to look at ourselves first. I also hope we will be willing to learn more about others and get to know the person instead of jumping to judgment. Then maybe we can turn around this view. What do you think?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Talk About It

I am back to blogging after a few weeks off. It has been a great but busy few weeks.
We have been focused on the views young people outside the Christian faith have of us as Christians. This week the focus is on the view that 91% of young people have and that is that Christians are antihomosexual. These young people think that Christians are against homosexuals. They have heard Christians say things like "God hates gays" or 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina are judgments by God on homosexuals. Then they think that all Christians agree with that.
I want to know how Christians that disagree with these kinds of statements should respond. How do we respond to the issue of homosexuality the way Christ would? I do not believe God hates people. I believe God loves all people, and as Christians we are called to communicate that message.
One of the troubling statistics in the book unChristian by David Kinnaman is that only 1% of Christians respond to homosexuality with prayer. I believe prayer is the first place we should go and so I want to encourage more of us to be praying as a response to homosexuality. We need to be praying for God's guidance on this issue and any other issue with this kind of complexity. We need to be talking with God about the direction we take to respond. Through times of prayer God will help us to see the situation with his heart and mind.
We also need to be praying for those personally facing this issue. I need to be praying for my brother, who is gay. I know some of the struggles and difficulties he has faced and I know he needs prayers for strength and peace. I need to do better at remembering to lift him up in prayer. We also need to lift up family members of homosexuals as they wrestle with the emotions and reactions. We can lift these people up before God and this response can hopefully bring a new spirit into these situations.
I also want to encourage us after having these conversations with God to talk with people about this issue. Let's have open communications about our struggles and difficulties. Let's ask questions to get better understanding instead of making assumptions. If we will truly listen to others we can grow in our ability to respond appropriately.
Above all, we need to respond first out of God's love and grace and not out of condemnation. I think only through love and grace can we communicate God's care for all people. Let's talk about it.