Nannygranne’s Zoom class had grown to almost thirty participants. With every attendee’s entrance, she prayed. Tonight her students would learn more truth about judging.
“Welcome, everyone! I guess I should be glad we’re all hiding from COVID in our houses. Because here we are together. I appreciate your time. We’ll begin by praying and then get right into the discussion.”
After the prayer, Nannygranne made an unusual request. “I’m about to ask you all to do something different, so hang with me and I think you’ll see the reason. I’d like for us to have about thirty seconds of silence and, in your mind’s eye, look up because your King Jesus is passing by. In Revelation, one time when the King was about to do something important, the Bible says there was silence in Heaven for thirty minutes. It was as if everyone held their breath, waiting to see what would happen.1 That’s where I want us to be tonight: spellbound and holding our breath.”
She stopped and lowered her eyes as she did what she asked the students to do.
After thirty seconds, she opened her eyes. “All right. Last week, I asked for a show of hands–using your screen icon–of those who believed, not just that God exists, but believes IN God even more than we believe in each other. I told each of those who believe IN God that that confidence would be the telescope we would use to find the star that can lead us to the restful calm confidence we all want to know. I believe God desires that for us as well.
“Wave at me if you’d be willing to read a Bible verse tonight. We are pursuing God’s answers to our questions.” She held up her Bible. “Here is where we find the answers and most people don’t get that. I’m glad you’re here to see how He answers our questions.”
Several participants waved, and she assigned them verses. Then she said, “Has anyone ever heard the term ‘Acid Test’?”
One student offered, “I’ve heard my dad use it just before he starts up one of his newly-made gadgets.”
Another said, “I read about it in my economics class. It can be used to refer to testing the financial strength of a business or something like that.”
Nannygranne thanked them. “The term originated in the practice of washing a piece of metal with acid which dissolved everything but the gold. Tonight’s scriptures will be the acid test for how we are to judge for yourselves, remembering that only God judges other people. Also, tonight, we’re going to find the answer for how to navigate misunderstanding, prejudice, censorship, and even judgment from others. Let’s begin. Read when I mention your verse.”
“Matthew 10: 16, 22, 24, 26, 28.” “16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves . . . 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved . . . 24 The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master . . . 26 So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known . . . 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. “
“Tell me what you heard. Anyone.”
After a few moments of silence, a girl raised her hand. “That sounded scary. Was this Jesus talking?”
Nannygranne nodded and waited for that reality to sink in. “These aren’t words of Jesus we hear very often. But these are words that will explain the conflicting expectations, opinions, and demands of us. You are right. These are scary words, but Jesus says more. Who has Matthew 10:29-33?”
The same girl raised her hand and began to read. “29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet, not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32 Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in Heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in Heaven.”
Nannygranne looked at the faces on the screen. “What parts of these two readings involved judgment of any kind?”
There was a long silence. Finally, two students raised their hands.
“Amanda? What did you see?”
“Well, in the first passage, Jesus says to be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. Doesn’t that mean we have to be careful and judge the situation to see if it’s safe?”
“Good observation Amanda. Anything else?”
“I saw where people would be hated because they are Christians and could even die.”
“Would you say they’ll feel judged when that happens?”
“Yes. Then, the last verse that was read, verse 33, says that if we disown Jesus, He will disown us before the Father. That’s judgment.”
“It is, Amanda, but notice it is Jesus who is condemning. That’s always God’s job, never ours. That being said, however, remember we learned we have to discern God’s will for us. That is the other use of the word ‘judge.’ Who has verses 34-39 of Matthew 10? Jesus is still talking in these verses.
One of the class regulars, Becky, raised her hand and started reading. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household . 37Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
The silence was deafening.
Finally, Nannygranne said, “We said in the beginning that if we believe IN God, then we know we can trust His ways. Does this sound to you like Jesus wants us always to be happy, wants us to always be safe?”
Derrick raised his hand, looking somewhat agitated. “That’s just the opposite of everything I’ve heard about how Jesus wants us to live! I don’t get it!”
Nannygranne nodded. “Derrick, my point exactly. Jesus’ Kingdom is an upside-down Kingdom. We lose our lives to find real life. We die to ourselves to live forever. We give sacrificially to have treasures in Heaven. When we tell of the Prince of Peace, people take sides. Are we going to be willing to step up to the plate for Jesus? He stepped up to crucifixion for us. And then He obliterated death, charging out of that tomb, and spent the next forty days gathering His people as their new King. The Acid Test to all our questions is whether we are willing trust God’s Way or not? Will we man up and take what comes?”
Nannygranne paused, then asked, “Amanda, have you found your answer to why some don’t like us when we trie to do and be right?”
Amanda said, “I think so.”
“What we’ve said assumes you KNOW God’s Way. That takes paying attention to what He says, and that means spending plain old-fashioned time in the Word and having Bible conversations.”
Nannygranne looked around. “We are ready for our lab work. I think we’ve agreed that the word ‘judge’ is used in different contexts. Only God can declare condemnation on other people, but He expects us to discern His will for us. We’ve also learned that expecting everything to be comfortable when we do His will is unrealistic, and Jesus understands censorship. After all, He took flack for it . . . on the cross. Next week, I’d like to revisit our original questions, apply our newly-found Acid Test, and see what we learn. One more week?”
“Sure,” several responded. Others nodded.
Derrick volunteered to close with a prayer.
Signing off, everyone waved goodbye.
How many would return during the holidays? Only God knew. But then, God even knows the number of hairs on each head.
1 Revelation 8:1 Silence in Heaven
For further study of Jesus’ teaching on Commitment:
The entirety of Matthew 10
I Peter 1:6-19
Recommended reading: Jesus Freaks by d.c.Talk and Voice of the Martyrs
Example of the current Cancel Culture/Censorship https://youtu.be/XgsqLLYy3JA
“He who is brave is free.” – Seneca