Rector’s Weekly Letter to the Congregation for Sunday, September 1, 2019
This word is on the lips of people a lot in our modern society. One can hear people say things like, “who are you to judge” if a mistake of another is pointed out. It almost sounds like no one is allowed to point out the wrongdoing of another. It would be “judging” the person and therefore inappropriate.
Jesus himself said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” Matthew 7:1 (NIV). What did Jesus mean? What constitutes “judging” another? Is a Police officer “judging” a driver who runs a STOP sign if the officer cites the driver for violation of the law? Is it “judging” when I tell an alcoholic friend that what he is doing to himself and his family, drinking so much, is wrong? Is it the loving thing to just look on and not say anything?
The dictionary definition of “judging” is “to form an opinion or conclusion about” someone or something. Such opinion is perhaps based upon the person’s current or former reputation, or the perception an individual has created around oneself. A good example of “judging” is in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9 -14). The Pharisee formed an opinion about the tax collector based upon the reputation of tax collectors. He didn’t know what exactly was going on in this particular tax collector’s mind. Maybe the man was hating himself for lording it over his own people and collecting taxes for an occupying force. Maybe he was telling God how he wanted to quit his dirty job of collecting taxes for the Romans. In the parable, he is said to be beating his breast and asking God for forgiveness. The Pharisee didn’t know all this. The Pharisee simply put the tax collector in a category without knowing the whole picture of what is going on.
This then gives us a handle to understanding what the Bible means by “judging.” The forbidden “judging” is not the telling of someone of their mistake or wrongdoing. In fact, the Bible itself tells us to tell others when they wrong us. In Matthew 18:15 – 17 Jesus commands us to go to the person who has wronged us and tell him what he did to us and make amends with him. In Galatians 6:1, Paul directs that if a believer is caught in a sin, the church members should restore him gently. That involves telling him or her that what he/she did was inappropriate.
In light of those Scriptures and others, it is evident that telling another his mistake is not what the Bible calls “judging.” The Bible encourages us to actually do it to restore relationship and harmony in the body of Christ. If a person is living in sin, it is the duty of the body of Christ to call him out on it as lovingly as possible.
What the Bible calls “judging” is the imputing of motive to another without evidence. Also, it is the censorious, nitpicking attitude that is always finding wrongs in people. Such an attitude carries a critical, complaining spirit about others almost nonstop. It is a killer of harmony in the body of Christ. It finds wrongs anywhere everywhere. It is injurious to both the criticizer and the criticized. We Christians have been accused of living like this. It is high time we corrected this and instead become a community of loving people helping each other to live in the way of Jesus. There’s a place for telling others their wrongs. But a continuous spirit of finding wrongs and murmuring against others is unwelcome among God’s people. It does not reflect the kind of life Jesus would want his holy people to live. May we learn to be generous with our love towards others and not to walk around requiring people to behave a certain way. We are not God’s Police Force. We are sinners, loved, welcomed, and accepted by God out of sheer magnanimity. Let us also receive others by grace.
WHAT ANGLICANS BELIEVE
The Anglican Catechism (ACNA)
The catechism is a question and answer format of teaching the basic principles of the Christian faith. The catechism is not meant just to be memorized by rote. Rather, it is meant to be discussed, reflected upon, internalized, and allowed to form us. I urge every family to take the time to study the catechism at home, discussing it word for word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, without passing over any statement that is not understood or is unclear. Parents, please take the lead to teach your children and to anchor them in the Christian faith. Let everyone ask questions and get answers. Please write down any questions that arise in your discussions, questions you cannot answer locally, and pass them to the Rector. May the Holy Spirit guide your learning.
(Continued from August 11 letter…)
53. What do you mean when you call Jesus Christ “Lord?”
I acknowledge Jesus’ authority over the Church and all creation, over all societies and their rulers, and over every aspect of my personal, social, professional, recreational, and family life. I surrender my life to him and seek to live every part of my life in a way that pleases him. (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:21-22; Luke 9:23-26)
“HE WAS CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT AND BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY”
54. How was Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit?
Through the creative power of the Holy Spirit, the eternal Son assumed a fully human nature from his mother, the Virgin Mary, in personal union with his fully divine nature at the moment of conception in Mary’s womb. (Luke l:34-35)
55. Was Mary the only human parent of Jesus?
Yes. Mary is held in honor, for she submitted to the will of God and bore the Son of God as her own son. However, after God told Joseph of Mary’s miraculous conception, Joseph took Mary as his wife and they raised Jesus as their son. (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38, 2:48)
56. What is the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and his divinity?
Jesus is both fully and truly God, and fully and truly human. The divine and human natures of Jesus’ Person may be distinguished but can never be separated, changed or confused. All that Jesus does as a human being, he also does as God; and before he ever became human, he was eternally living and active within the unity of the Holy Trinity. (John 1:1-2; 5:18; 10:30; 14:8-9; Luke 2:7; Definition of Chalcedon)
“HE SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE”
57. Why did Jesus suffer?
Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could have peace with God, as prophesied in the Old Testament: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
58. In what ways did Jesus suffer?
On earth, the incarnate Son shared physically, mentally and spiritually in the temptations and sufferings common to all people. In his agony and desolation on the cross, he suffered in my place for my sins and, in so doing, displayed the self-denial I am called to embrace for his sake. (Hebrews 4:14-5:10; Mark 8:34-38; Philippians 2:5)
59. Why does the Creed say that Jesus suffered under the Roman governor Pontius Pilate?
The Creed thus makes clear that Jesus’ life and death were real events that occurred at a particular time and place in Judea in the first century A.D. (Matthew 27:22-26)