Judge Not

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Comparisons

It is easy to compare ourselves to others and by those comparisons to judge. We all do it, though we are told repeatedly throughout Scripture to avoid it (see Matthew 7:1-2 and Romans 14:10).

In working with youth, we see a great many pass through our halls. Each of them is unique. Each has their own qualities and faults. Each has their own righteousness and sin.

Walking those same halls are Christians and Atheists, Muslims and Hindus. All sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all sin by default of our fallen nature, but we all have a choice in how we interact with one another.

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 2:1

Judgment is not our calling. Our calling is humility in light of our own knowledge of sin, our awareness that we are all fallen beings. This understanding leads us to love and compassion. It should no longer appear natural to approach those other than ourselves with haughty judgment, but rather to be gracious and kind.

This mindset should shape the way we approach our work, whether it is education or otherwise. Yes, others will be different. Yes, we will disagree with their choices. Yes, you will identify certain actions as wrong.

The difference for us, as Christians, is that the person is not wrong. What they do may not follow the teachings of Scripture and Jesus, but none of this changes who they are, who we are. We are all children of God, sinful and yet dearly loved. We are called to be different, to be set apart and holy. This means love instead of judgment, grace instead of condemnation.

The Foundation

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The Question

Ever since I was in high school I knew that I wanted to work in education. I envisioned myself as a Bible teacher and then as a professor of religion. Never once did I think I would end up at a secular school in the middle of America.

I currently work at a prestigious residential school for gifted high school students. It is also a public school, abiding by all of America and Indiana’s religious laws and standards.

The school prides itself on providing high level education for a diverse body of students, creating an environment of openness and acceptance. It is a noble enterprise for any institution and its concentration on these ideals is one to be followed.

I have had many concerns about working in a school where its outlook allows for many students who live directly in opposition to the teachings of Christianity. The central question for me has been and continues to be,

“How do I live a life of faith in a secular world?”

This was and is the first question on my mind. It is an important question and one that we should all answer, whether or not we live within or without the “Christian bubble.” How we answer it determines how we interact with a growing world on non-believers, how we minister and how we serve.

This blog looks to answer that question and to lay out the path for others to follow. Its answers lie in faith in the God who directs our destiny. Its hope is in the Christ Jesus who offers His love and grace to a broken and desperate world.

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Where I Began

The first answer I was given was one at the heart of Scripture. When I was a college Bible student, I studied the Hebrew interpretations and context of Scripture as well as Jewish traditions and theology. For many who have studied Judaism, Deuteronomy 6:5 will stand out as the foundational teaching of the Torah (first five books of the Bible).

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus references this passage as the “greatest commandment” when questioned by a religious leader. Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27 all record the event and tell the story.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

Matthew 22:35-38

The first answer to my first question was the first and greatest commandment. No matter who we are, where we work, or who we work with, our greatest commandment is to love the Lord. Just how we love the Lord is a whole other question. Here again, Jesus gave us the answer.

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:39

We love others to demonstrate our love for God. We treat others with love, kindness, and compassion because this is how we would want others to treat us. We do this because at the heart of our actions is a love of God. We strive to emulate Christ’s sacrificial grace in our every moment so that we might actually come close to a reflection.

This is what is necessary for those who call Christ their own and work in the secular world. When we interact with people of different beliefs and lifestyles than our own, we love and we act as the body of Christ to the unbelievers. For each person and moment, this looks a little different. In education, we have the opportunity to advance the cause of Christ to the youth of the world. Whatever our role, we can never lose sight of who we are and what we are called to do.

We are followers of a loving God, a God who asks us to love Him and all of the people of the world.