As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.
And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you).
Judge, and you'll be judged – right?
This week, our scripture tells us Jesus tells us not to judge unless we want to be judged by the same standard. And this has got to be one of the most reworked passages in the Bible, by both "conservatives" and "liberals/progressives" alike.
Most of us have been the butt of conservative judgment. Our hair is wrong, or our sexual orientation is wrong, or who we vote for is wrong, or our refusal to support war is wrong, or – oh, we could just name just about anything and it would fall into some version of conservative "Christian" judgment. And since Jesus says if we judge we get judged by the same standard, can't you just see conservatives arriving before God's judgment seat, and hearing God say to them, "Sorry – you're going to hell because you wore your hair short. Sorry – you're going to hell because you never stopped being straight. Sorry – you're going to hell because you voted republican. Sorry – you're..." That's how ridiculous God wants us to understand our deciding if someone else merits hell or not really is. WE don't get to decide who truly merits hell and who doesn't – and thank God for that! All we have to do to understand what a mercy that is, is to look around us at our current "justice" system. Rest assured, when Jesus comes back, the angels will NOT be beating people up because of their race, or lying to get them convicted to score political points for having a "tough-on-crime" record, and Jesus will certainly not be sending people to the gas chamber because His lunch isn't sitting well and it's making Him crabby.
So, NO judging!
But we also have to be careful about going too far the other way – which is the mistake liberal and progressive "Christians" love just as much to make. In the Bible, we're told not to decide who gets to heaven and who doesn't, but elsewhere in the Bible (including in a passage we're going to talk about in a moment) we're warned we are required to discern, figure out, and learn what's (really) godly versus what isn't, and to act on what we've figured out. What's the difference, then, between judging and discerning?
It's like this:
- If you are The Judge, you decide someone's guilt, and you send them to punishment. You're the final-say, and everyone acts on what you say with no questions asked.
- If you're The Discerner, you take a look-see at the things someone's heart leads them to do or say, and you decide if those things match having the Holy Spirit in one's heart or not. If they don't match, then you don't do or say those things yourself, and if the circumstances make sense to do so, you find a Holy-Spirit-inspired way to say, "That's just not right!" That's what the Old Testament prophets did, and that's what the New Testament disciples did. But we always eave it to God to make the final-say about everyone (including you!)
So, recognize the sin, and act or speak against it (or just turn away from participating in it or pretending it's "ok") – but don't ever decide that those committing the sin should go to hell.
- Jesus points out that we are too often in love with pointing out other people's little sins, while ignoring our own huge sins – but He doesn't tell us to ignore other people's sins. Instead, He tells us to clean up our own act first, and then go out to help others clean up theirs. So consider "Christians" who believe the mistranslations and out-of-context interpretations of the Bible that (claim) God condemns Gay people. These "Christians" (other) sins include child molestation (and protecting child molesters instead of children), spouse abuse, war, cheating the poor, oppressing those who are weaker than they are, teaching a false-Gospel, making people think poorly of Jesus, and more. So discern: are they acting from Holy-Spirit-led hearts, since they don't really bother cleaning up their own act before going out to supposedly clean up others? Are they people we should even be listening to, if we're wanting to hear and follow the real Jesus?
- Jesus also tells us not to hand over our good stuff to those who will only treat it like trash or even hurt us with it. If you are Gay, then, do you hand over how you understand yourself and your relationship with God to those who treat you like trash or who use your sexual orientation to hurt you? If you are straight, do you hand over how you feel about yourself and who you're supposed to be in Jesus Christ to those who twist your want to follow Christ faithfully into what benefits their own version of religious "Christianity"? What can you start doing today to change that?
Ask! Seek! Knock! (No! Really!)
Jesus then tells us then a bit about our relationship with God. He tells us that God knows how to take care of us, and not hurt us, even better than the most loving parent does. When we ask, Jesus says, God gives us what we need. When we go looking, God makes sure we find. When we ask to be with Him, He opens the door.
But this isn't about getting fancy cars and huge homes - despite what the God-is-a-vending-machine crowd would like you to believe. It actually relates to what Jesus has talked about previously: God wants us to be perfectly-good to everyone, just like He's perfectly-good to us – giving even though we don't deserve it, helping us find Him even when we don't deserve it, opening all of heaven to us, even though we don't deserve it. Our being just as loving and patient and healing as God, Jesus says, sums up the entire meaning and intent of the Old Covenant Law. It sums up God's entire way!
- The Bible (including the New Testament) tells us that God's (real) People have often gone hungry, or been without cover for their bodies, or been beaten and even killed for standing for or being about God's real way, and so on - so we know that Jesus isn't talking here about having a cushy, easy, materially wealthy life with all the friends, family, and happiness we could ever want. No, that's the fake-dream modern western society (especially but not only in the USA) promotes as The Only Truth. And it's an illusion that has destroyed and disturbed many people's faith in God, when He doesn't "deliver" like Pizza Hut, Walmart, or Mercedes Benz. How has the illusion of material-goodness-as-part-of-God's-plan-for-this-world impacted your own life? How can you untie that knot, so it's not messing with your relationship with God any longer?
Keep to the real-Jesus-lit path – the wolves don't go there
In the next passage of scripture, Jesus warns us there's a wide path of living, so easy to find and so easy to stay on. It leads to a wide gate anyone can get through easily, but it's worked by people who claim to represent God and do His work, but whose actions and living only call and help people through a false-Gospel life leading to ultimate destruction and pain. We can tell we're on this path when our inner selves and the hearts of the people we fellowship with are about messing around sexually, making things as or more important than God, hating others, being jealous, being envious, being me-first, being drunk or drugged, creating or belonging to in-groups, and so on (check out this scripture, for example).
Jesus tells us a lot of Good Religious People are going to walk this wide path, get through the wide gate, and then realize they're in hell. Then they'll protest to Jesus, "How can I be here? All my life I prayed long and loud for You. I fed people in Your Name. I told people about You night and day. I even did miracles for You. Don't You know me?" And Jesus – who was never fooled by their false "Christianity" and their Jesus-on-the-outside-Satan-on-the-inside lives – will simply say, "Nope. Never was fooled by your religious evil. Go where you belong – where you chose to end up!"
But Jesus also says there's a narrow path, one that leads to a narrow gate. And on the other side of the narrow gate is eternity with God and all the good things that God is. Few people choose to go down this narrow road. But we'll know we're on it when our inner lives and hearts bear real-Jesus-fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (again, check this scripture out). Those are the things we should see in the hearts of those human beings we fellowship with, too, because those things mean they are on the narrow path, too – they, too, are actually doing what Jesus says to do!
And doing what Jesus says to do means we're on a strong foundation – one that no storm of this world or any other world can blow, drown, or shove us off of. But not doing what Jesus says? Not doing what Jesus says gives us no foundation at all, and it's going to take almost nothing at all to wipe us out completely.
- It's not hard to recognize the world in the description of the wide path. It's also not hard to see how paths of hate, God-rejecting, and so on can only lead to hell. What we're taught not to recognize, though, is how much a part of the same wide path Good Religious Living is, as well. But we really only need to be willing to see it – to discern the wrong of Good Religious People who are just as likely to molest children, cheat on their spouses, abuse the poor and minorities, commit war, etc., as those Good Religious People look down on as "sinners" - and all because they have their idea of "What the best Jesus would be" in their hearts, and not the real Jesus. What part of your life is still caught in the thinking of Good Religious People, believing that the "wide path" isn't chock-full of Good Religious People on their way to hell? What do you need to discern further, to clear your heart of their influence?
- Being on the "narrow path" requires no "church" membership or attendance, no religious programs, no tithing, no kneeling on alters, no seminary training, no crackers or wine/grape juice, no "clergy", no "denominations", nothing. But it does require that we set those things aside and open our hearts to Jesus, allowing the real Holy Spirit to heal, guide, and teach us more and more, each day. Does your life prove you are on the wide path, or the narrow path, today? What will you need to let go of to get to the real Jesus?
Some final thoughts this week:
Jesus' entire "Sermon on the Mount" has been about telling us not only what Good Religious People think they do right but actually do completely wrong – but also how God requires us to do better than they do, if we want to choose heaven instead of their hell. In just this "Sermon on the Mount" alone, Jesus has talked about:
- who and what God really values,
- who truly gets rewarded by God,
- who really follows God's way,
- how we should handle our anger,
- how we should keep our commitments to those who depend on us,
- where we should keep our sexual impulses,
- what keeping our word should mean,
- how we should treat those who hurt us and those who are different than we are,
- which religious works or good deeds God rewards – and which He doesn't,
- how to pray so God knows we mean it,
- who we should forgive and why,
- what we should value – and not value – of the things in this world,
- the either-or choice we must make between loving God or loving the world,
- why we should trust God to get us what we really need,
- why we shouldn't act as God in deciding the eternal fate of others,
- why we should be more concerned with our own sin than others' sins,
- how we shouldn't make ourselves or our faith vulnerable to people who will only disrespect or hurt one or both,
- how we should trust God to answer our call to Him, and how He will help us find Him and life with Him forever,
- how dangerous it is to go the world's way (including the Good Religious Way), instead of Jesus' way,
- how worthless it is to assume that doing God's work means we're earning God's reward,
- why only Jesus is a proper foundation for our lives, if we intend to weather every storm.
Are you feeling the power of Jesus' truth today? Are you at least beginning to recognize the huge difference between Jesus and the Good Religious People who have for so many centuries claimed falsely to know and represent Him (just as He said they would)?
Are you asking? Are you seeking? Are you ready to find? God is. Right now. Start, or start all over again. It's time!
This article written by Lynne at http://NoJunkJustJesus.blogspot.com/. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.