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Church: A Place of Love, Not Judgment

Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6:37). Jesus contrasts love and judgment as antithetical activities. This verse comes immediately after Jesus told us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27, 35). We cannot love and be judgmental at the same time.

When the church assumes the role of moral guardians of the broader culture, Christians become judges over others. Not only is there no precedent for this in the life of Jesus, but Scripture explicitly and repeatedly forbids us to judge others.

This why the original sin of the Bible is depicted as eating from “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Our fundamental job is to love like God loves. We are not to pretend that we can know good and evil as some kind of moral guardians because we cannot know what God knows.

When the church sets itself up as the moral police of the culture, Christians earn the reputation of being self-righteous judgers rather than loving, self-sacrificial servants. While outcasts and sinners gravitated to Jesus because of his magnetic love, people today tend to steer clear of the church.

The brutal fact is that we Christians are not generally known for our love. This is catastrophic! Love is the all-or-nothing of God’s kingdom. Above all we are to love (Col 1:14). Everything we do is to be done in love (1 Cor 16:14). We are to imitate God by living in Christlike love (Eph 5:1-2).

If we lack love, everything we do is devoid of kingdom value, however impressive it might otherwise be. Not only this, but God has leveraged the expansion of his kingdom on the church loving like Christ loves. By God’s own design, the corporate body of Christ is to grow as the corporate body does exactly what the incarnate body of Christ did—dying for those who crucified him.

Until the broader culture identifies us as loving, humble servants, and until outcasts and sinners are beating down our doors to hang out with us as they did with Jesus, we have every reason to accept our culture’s assessment of as correct: we are more judgmental than loving.

The ugliness of self-serving, judgmental religion pushes people away from God’s kingdom. The beauty of humble, Calvary-like love pulls them in. If we lived in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, we would in time possibly find outcasts and sinners—that is those who are most maligned and judged by religious people—hanging out with us. Only in such a kingdom context can they experience God’s love, worth, and acceptance.

—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Nation, pages 132-135


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