If you’ve been feeling a bit down in the ego, or if you have questions about who is going to heaven and who is consigned to hell, fear not. There’s an app for that.
Just pull up your favorite social media site, find a Christian-themed thread, and start browsing the comments.
In short order you’ll see that it’s all sorted out. We know who to judge, when to judge, and certainly how to judge.
I was reminded of this recently while reading a discourse on Facebook between two of my friends. The pair were attempting to determine whether a certain politician would go to heaven, or face eternal damnation.
They were disturbingly serious about settling this — about determining the eternal fate of a fellow child of God. One argued the offender could be saved, if they’d only beg forgiveness for certain policies. The other declared with certainty the unfortunate soul was simply beyond redemption.
The issue of dragging Scripture down into the mire of political “discourse,” and appropriating the Gospel for one political party or another, is an issue for an entirely other column. For now, suffice to say we all-too-often enjoy climbing into God’s throne to pass judgment on who will be saved and who will be damned, who is loved and who is not.
It is an activity that plays neatly into our human sense of pride. Nothing boosts the ego like sitting for a spell on God’s throne. And that’s exactly why we’re given such clear, and repeated, admonitions against doing so.
In the Sermon on the Mount Christ warned us “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged,” (Matthew 7:1) and later pointed out the absurd hypocrisy of trying to remove a speck from our neighbor’s eye while carrying a log in our own.
If you prefer the Epistles, James and Paul are even less subtle.
James tells us: “There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)
Paul is even more stern: “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (Romans 2:1)
Now, I realize the irony here — that I am coming dangerously close to judging those who judge. How then, do we respond, if we’re not to be judged for judging those who judge? As in all matters, Christ provides the answer: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mark 12:31 and Matthew 5:44)
Love is the only mandate we’ve been given by God. Judgment is God’s alone. And, last I checked, the Almighty doesn’t have a social media account.
Note: this post originally was published June 30, 2017 in my column, ‘The Emmaus Path,’ which is published every third week in the Enid News & Eagle.