“J” is for Judgment (March 6, 2012)

…Opening To…

So daily dying to the way of self, so daily living to your way of love, we walk the road, Lord Jesus, that you trod, knowing ourselves baptized into your death: so we are dead and live with you in God. (Thomas H. Cain, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “J” is for judgment. For starters, “judgment” is a scary word in our modern context. None of us wants to be judged because we know in our heart of hearts that we will be found wanting. She doesn’t wear the right shoes. He can’t jump high enough. She has trouble speaking publically. He gets really sweaty when he talks to girls. In each of these cases, we are vulnerable to “judgment,” and the outcome of the judgment is never going our way. Even in church we hear such pious rhetoric as as, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Sounds bad, right?

Our society hardwires us to think that judgment always means something negative is coming our way. But let’s look at the word again: Judgment – oft misspelled as “judgement.” See the first syllable – judge. There isn’t a judge (or jury) in the land who, case after case, hands down guilty verdicts. The judge is not tasked with finding people guilty. The judge is simply tasked with choosing from alternatives. That’s what “judgment” is at the elementary level: choosing. “Good judgment” means “making beneficial and healthy choices.”

Okay, so let’s bring the word into its church context. We talk about Christ being our judge and about “the last judgment.” This could be really scary (and for much of Christian history, the church traded in on this fear). It could be scary because we are sinners, and thus our judge could could very well find us guilty. But that’s not what happened. Rather than finding us guilty, Christ the judge made a choice. And that choice wasn’t even one of the two alternatives on the table. Christ didn’t let it come to our guilt or innocence. Instead, Christ made the choice to soak all of our sins into himself. Christ made the choice to give us clean hearts and right spirits despite our sinfulness. Christ made the choice save the world rather than condemn it.

So whenever you think about being judged, know that our heavenly judge is full of compassion and abounding in steadfast kindness and mercy. And also know that the judgment has already been made.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the source of all wisdom. Help me to make wise judgments in my life, always relying on your Word and guidance to walk down life-giving paths. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, thankful that you continue to shine your light in my heart and mind, that I may continue to know you better through every way that you choose to reveal yourself.

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