It’s been said that if you were to have gone to a college campus a couple of decades ago to survey the most common Scripture known by most students was John 3:16. But if you go to a school today and did the same survey, the most known verse is Matthew 7:1.
Do Not Judge.
And to be honest I get why. I think my generation has seen just too much religious intolerance; from flying planes into buildings, to crazy street preachers condemning every particular soapbox behavior they hate and slapping Jesus name on it. We’ve seen religion divide relationships and make people generally more hateful.
But we haven’t stopped judging, we’ve just done changed the criteria.
Every day on Facebook I get a notification by some application called Compare your Friends, telling me that my peers think I’m smarter/dumber, faster/slower, funnier/boring than someone else. My generation has seen the rise of peer-rating sites like no other. We’re constantly being taught to ask am I hot or not? We’re being conditioned to wonder if I am acceptable, and now we even have a convenient 1-10 scale.
We live in a beauty pageant.
Last night I had to put the SuperBowl on pause to read Eden a bedtime story. And for the first time ever I read her “You are Special” by Max Lucado. It’s kind of like a parable for children, but I know some grown ups who should read it. It’s about a world of wooden puppets, (one Jim Henson didn’t create) and these puppets love to compare.
And when a puppet does something good they get a star, and when they make a mistake they get a dot. So basically you’ve got all these puppets walking around with dots and stars defining them. And one particularly dotted puppet, named Punchinello, is feeling down about all his mistakes. He couldn’t jump high or sing well, His wood was scratched and he wasn’t the best at anything.
Until he meets a puppet without any stars or dots. Because they don’t stick. She tells Punchinello that she doesn’t have any stickers because she goes everyday to see Eli, the carpenter who made them. So Punchinello goes and visits Eli, and Eli tells Punchinello that he shouldn’t let the stickers get to him. Because, “Who are they to give you stars or dots. What they think doesn’t matter, what I do does.”
Now I know this probably sounds pretty cheesy. But I read this to Eden and hoped as deeply as I could that she would get this. Because life is going to throw at her a million different opportunities to compare herself to others and feel disappointed or elated. And I don’t want anybody putting dots on her.
And then I went back and finished watching the Superbowl. It was a great game, I liked both teams, and I know the Saints have reinvigorated New Orleans in a way that no one could have expected. But it’s a still a system of stars and dots.
I’m starting to think that when the New Testament refers to worldly it’s referring to something like this. When Jesus uses the term talking to Pilate, saying, “My Kingdom is not of this world” some translators have said that would be better translated, “My Kingdom is not of this system.”
It’s not a system of power rising to the top, or of the strong ruling the weak.
Think about 2 Corinthians 5. Paul is trying to describe the implications of a New Heaven and a New Earth, and look at what he closes off with:
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.
Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old
has gone, the new has come!
Paul’s trying to bring down to earth a story that’s as big as the redemption of all the Cosmos. And Paul is trying to apply that to the way we look at people. And he still has a word for today.
See Paul has learned the danger of looking at people from the perspective that he used to have. And he learned it first hand from misjudging Jesus. He’d looked at Jesus as a mixed up itinerant Rabbi who hung out with some scandalous people.
And he found out that he’d judged poorly, so he gave it up all together.
So much so that he spent the rest of his life trying to get the churches he planted to give it up too.
Paul had met the Living Jesus, and he’d realized that he’d been so off about his previous judgments that he refused to live with those kinds of systems anymore. Because in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, Slave nor free, Male or Female.
Christians should be the one group of people who don’t judge based on those things anymore. And they should no longer accept that kind of judgement of others about themselves either.
We don’t deal in stars and dots any longer.
Because we’ve learned they only stick if you let them.