To Judge or Not to Judge?

The Sunday night zoom class was beginning.  Nannygranne was surprised to see more than twenty faces asking to attend this open class.  Amanda’s question last week had aroused interest:

“Well.  Sometimes at school, if you don’t go along with certain things or be happy about what some people are doing, they just assume you’re judging them, and they get mad.  And sometimes, I’m supposed to agree with something to stay out of trouble.  Then what do I do?”

Nannygranne opened the class with “Hello everyone!  Buckle your seatbelts.  No question is out of bounds as long as it’s on the subject.  We’ll start by asking  God to help us find His answer to Amanda’s question.”  

After praying, the class began in earnest. “I’m sure everyone came with a comment or question in mind.  I want to start there. Please type your question in the comments box.  While you do that, I’ll recap last week’s discussion and bring the new folks up to speed.

“We studied Psalm 1 that says not to associate with sinners and then noted Jesus’ words ‘judge not lest we be judged.’ We wondered how to harmonize those two teachings, so we researched the word  ‘judge.’ We discovered that when we condemn or mistreat a fellow believer, we’re taking God’s job and condemning ourselves. However, Jesus also wanted His disciples to judge for themselves regarding the right thing to do.  He said in Luke 12:57, ‘And why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?’ Finally, one of the girls tied a ribbon around our discoveries when she rephrased Psalm 1.  She wrote, ‘We’re much better off not to be taken in by the unbeliever’s ideas, or be best friends with people that can get you in trouble, or join in with people who ridicule God and Christianity.’  Now go ahead and complete your questions or comments. and we’ll start there.” 

The screen quickly populated with over a dozen comments.  “Great response, everyone!  I’ll begin by reading the comments.  You all listen carefully.  Look for themes,  words you hear used often, and then we’ll talk.”  

Nannygranne began to read:

“How do I know what’s right about anyone’s gender?  There are so many views and ideas, and I get confused.  Is there really just one way to be?”

“Isn’t it judging to think someone is wrong just because they feel differently from you?”

“We aren’t God.  How do we have the right to decide what’s right for somebody else?”

“I think the world would be a better place to live if everyone would be kind to everyone else and not get upset about how anyone lives.”

“My parents have a lot of old ideas and they get mad if I don’t agree with them.  I feel like I can’t make them happy and be true to myself.”

“I believe in God, but I don’t feel my faith like I think I should.”

“I can’t help how I feel. Why would God want me to lie to myself?”

“I feel worried because I’m not like I’m supposed to be.  What if I find out I’m not. What can I do?  I feel judged no matter what I act like.”

Nannygranne looked with tenderness at the faces before her.  Some were tearful or frustrated, others looking down to hide the fear in their eyes.  “I want to thank each of you for laying it out there.  Answers can’t breathe unless the questions have air and light.  Thank you.”  

After a moment she asked her own question:  “What common words did you hear?  What themes, if any, did you perceive?”

Becky’s hand indicator popped up. “I heard the word ‘I’ over and over and ‘think’ and ‘feel.'”

Derrick  offered, “A lot of us don’t like what we feel, and LGBTQ issues came up a lot.” 

Evelyn, a new girl with a studious expression, answered,  “Well, people think and feel a lot of different things.  Our questions were about that.  With all the different ideas and expectations, how can you know what is right for you?”

Nannygranne smiled.  “Evelyn, you bring up an important point.  Would you agree that most people accept absolutes in math, chemistry, and astronomy? “

“I suppose so.  The math and astronomy have to be solid to go into space.”

“There are trustworthy absolutes in all of life, as well. Some say there is no absolute truth, but I  have to ask if that is true.  Here is my point.  There IS a way to know the answers.  You don’t have to depend on your, or anyone else’s, limited and erratic thoughts and feelings.  You can choose a path with clear signage and tried and trustworthy guides along the way.

“Now I have a question for all of you.  Click ‘Raise Hand’  if you have faith in God.”  The ‘Raise Hand’ indicators lit up one by one until all but a couple showed.  “Thank you.  Now for those who raised their hands, I want you to ask yourself one more question:  Do you believe THAT God exists, or do you believe IN God who exists?”  

Nannygranne paused, then repeated the question. “I could tell you that I believe my husband exists.  But if I tell you that I believe IN my husband, you see a greater depth in my relationship with Him.  If you believe IN God,  then you can trust Him and His ways.”

Amanda raised her hand. “Yes, Nannygranne, but other people don’t feel like we do, and it makes everyday life and friendships complicated.  That’s what we’re asking you about.”

“I need to tell you all something.  Every question on your heart at the beginning of this class is as old as human history.1 Ancient civilizations had gay cultures. Medical advancements have added transgender issues, but the basic thoughts, feelings, and practices were international, including in Pompei,2 Rome,3 Corinth,4 and even Jerusalem.5  Fathers and sons have butted heads since Adam and Cain.6  The Apostle Paul writes a wrenching statement about hating his own feelings and inconsistencies, as well as the solution.7  Doubting our faith is as old as Thomas.8  One man fell to his knees before Jesus and cried out, ‘I believe!  Help my unbelief!’9

“None of us are alone in our struggles, whether we’re my age or still in your teens.  God knows what to do. We don’t shock Him.  Jesus tasted the tears of fear,10 the chill of temptation,11 and the loneliness of being misunderstood and let down by his friends.12  Yet, He stayed the course with us because He deems us worth the trouble.  It’s incredible, but He really and truly wants us to be together with Him.14.

Nannygranne paused, then added, “Join us again next Sunday night at 9:00, and we will look through God’s telescope at the big picture and find the star that will guide us to that restful calm confidence we are meant to have.15  Just raise your hand  if you’ll be here.”

Every face smiled.  Every hand raised.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For further discussion and study:

 “What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth.” Eccl 1:9 NET

2   Pompei controversy:  Forbes article https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2017/04/08/is-that-skeleton-gay-the-problem-with-projecting-modern-ideas-onto-the-past/?sh=56940a8b30e7

3  Roman gay culture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_ancient_Rome

4  I Corinthians 6:9-11  “….some of you once lived this way.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

5  Interesting perspective of one traveling scholar on the subject: https://backtojerusalem.com/the-secret-history-of-homosexuality-and-persecution-of-christians/

The trouble with Cain – Genesis 4

The Apostle Paul’s struggle – Romans 7:14-8:2

Apostle Thomas refuses to trust, until…John 20

 Mark 9:24, “Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” NET

10  Luke 22

11  Matthew 4

12  John 14:9-10 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”  Jesus replied: “Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don’t you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father?”

13  Matthew 26 and Mark 14

14 John 3:16-21

15 John 4:6-7

Author:

I am a mother, grandmother, nanny, and writer—with a passionate concern about children, all children. With the help of my son Travis (who has a graduate degree in apologetics) I hope to share some thoughts that will be helpful to all who have the same concern.

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