Some people are way too judgmental . . . I can tell just by looking at them!
Do you find yourself pre-judging others before you get to know them? If you don’t, I admire your character. If you do, welcome to the human condition! It seems we’re all prone to judge others before we get to know them; especially if they look different, act different or dress different than “we” do.
I’ve been thinking this week about our tendency to pre-judge others and grieving the way it impedes our ability to build beloved communities—communities where everyone is welcome and honored. A beloved community is what Jesus had in mind when he invited his first disciples to follow him and what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about.
Can you imagine a community based on justice, equal opportunity, and love—a place where all people share in the wealth of the earth? Can you imagine a world where racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice are replaced by an all–inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood? This is the way the King Center defines Martin’s vision of a beloved community.
If those of us, who follow the way of Jesus, have any hope of living in a beloved community we must “think red together.” We must stop judging and start loving! Jesus tells us straight up: 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.
Here are four ways we can help cultivate a non-judgmental, beloved community:
Keep your side of the street clean: or, as they say in the recovery community, “do your own inventory, not your neighbors.” Jesus said it this way, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye? . . . First take the log out or your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” When you find yourself judging others take the time to reflect on your motives, discern what is underneath your judgmental spirit.
Quit thinking “tolerance” is the answer: Jesus didn’t commandment us to tolerate one another; he said we are to love one another in the same way he loved us. You will never feel like you truly belong if you know your presence in the community is “being tolerated.” Beloved communities don’t tolerate diversity they thrive in it.
Taste the flavor of other cultures: There are secret treasures in the kingdom of Heaven that will remain hidden from us as long as we stand in judgment of people from other cultures. A fun and rewarding way to taste the deep and joyful flavor of God’s kingdom is to seek God in cultures different from yours. Enjoy the art, read the literature, learn the history, taste the food of other cultures and make friends with people who see the world different than you.
Dream Together: Instead of judging others dream together about a community where everyone is loved, welcome and treated with equity.
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.