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Posts Tagged ‘judge’

Art by David Lawson.

Art by David Lawson.

Are you the observer or the participant? We don’t see much ecstasy in worship these days. Oh, there’s a lot of loud music and wild lights like a rock concert and occasionally some roaring and clapping and shouting, but the spectacle of David and the transporting of the ark is beyond words and unlikely to be repeated in our age.

When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might,  while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. [2 Samuel 6:13-16, NIV]

The journey, about 12.5 miles, was interrupted every six steps for a sacrificial offering. If this is true, they stopped about 4,000 times, and it would have taken almost a month to make the journey, assuming they stopped for 10 minutes for each sacrifice and went day and night. Not likely.

But, is the point of this story in the details or the implication?There are two distinct responses to the return of the ark: the participant and the observer.

King David led the procession as a worshiper dressed in an ephod (similar to a front & back apron), like a prophet, for Samuel also wore such a garment. He modeled, with apparent abandon, the joy of having the ark, a representative resting place for God on earth, returned to its origins, to the center of Jewish life and government. This day was his greatest accomplishment and gift to his people up to that point. He exhibited the fullness of his joy and pleasure and it burst out of him in dancing with disregard for how he might look or sound. He was that happy.

But from another vantage point was Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s wife for whom he paid the bride price of 100 Philistine foreskins, which suggests he killed many men to win her. And back in those days, she loved David as well. He was her hero, her “knight in shining armor.” But when his attention turned away from her and wholly unto his God, displaying himself transparently to everyone, she lost respect for him. She was embarrassed by his display of emotion (and evidently, he may have also displayed his private parts in his frenzy – see vs. 20-21). She watched and she judged.

It’s a dangerous thing to cast judgment on the behaviors of others, whether it is in joy or grief. We cannot know the depth of their feelings or what is needed to express them in that moment. Perhaps I don’t believe the machinations of others are authentic. So what? What does it matter? Who is harmed by displays of raw emotion or spiritual manifestations (from speaking in tongues or a whirling dervish)?

But even in less significant ways, I’m afraid we have become a culture of passive observers. I think we might be missing out on a entire array of experiences because we pre-judge even ourselves. We imagine observing ourselves and do not act.

When was the last time you experienced emotional abandon? Or unrestrained spiritual expression?

 

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Favoritism with ice cream is a lot different than favoritism with people. Oh I might try not to judge people on first impressions but I find it inescapable. Can I overcome these moments with intentional action?

James 2:1, 4
My brothers [and sisters], as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. . . . have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Some years ago when we still lived in Atlanta, we attended a small church composed mostly of fellow believers who had been asked to split away from a larger denominational church because of our bent toward the charismatic. One of our leaders, Jim, was a wonderful man, kind and dignified, smart and loving. I will never forget the day he taught about enthusiasm: “If you want to be enthusiastic, sometimes you just have to act enthusiastic to feel it.” And then he proceeded to stomp and cheer and pump his arms around like a lunatic. It was hysterical but his message stayed with me.

Personally, enthusiasm comes easily to me. In fact, when I’m excited about a project, I’m quite the cheerleader, almost nauseatingly so, I’m sure. But how can I take that passionate commitment to action and use it to break down my internal tendencies toward judging others through intentional choices to change?

Some people call it a “besetting sin.” When I looked that up, it can also mean a type of harassment, or being surrounded, or an obsession. I can certainly relate to my judging of others in that way. My time in confessional prayers is dominated by asking forgiveness for my judgments. And in my way of thinking, judgment and favoritism go hand in hand. I cannot “favor” one person above the other without having made a negative of judgment of the other.

What to do? I know I can’t just tell myself to stop. If that worked, I’d be golden by now. Should I treat it as a bad habit and follow these 29 Tips for Changing a behavior?

Here are some suggestions from Oprah.com (go figure) written by Tim Jarvis. At first I was going to make a joke about it, but perhaps I need to take a few of these ideas to heart:

  • Like the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, it may take a number of efforts to get to the “boiling point” or threshold when things happen. So, in my case, the more I tackle this issue, the more aware I am and the more opportunities to get over the hump.
  • I need to think more about the other side, what it would look like and feel like to “not” be a judge so much. Instead of looking back at my failures, look ahead.
  • One of the approaches for change is to engage in community. This is why groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous are so important: support and encouragement. Hmmm. Not sure how to translate my habit of the heart into a club of regenerated judges.

A friend of mine who struggles with food addiction says that this is one of the most difficult addictions to tackle. After all, unlike alcohol and drugs which can, to some degree be avoided, food is always with us. I think judging and dis-favoring others is similar. People are everywhere. I say that I love to “people watch,” but I wonder if that’s not just a buzz word for judging, mocking, and categorizing. Not a good thing.

What do you do? Honestly. Am I really alone out here?

Lord, forgive me again. Today. And right now, I’d appreciate it.

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The whole idea of the “judgment seat” has always given me pause. Today, as I encountered this verse, I wondered again, would I be shuttled off to the “left side” with the goats? [Matthew 25:31] But then it occurred to me: Hey, I’ve got a lawyer.

II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].
[Amplified]

I think there will still be a conversation and revelations about this life of mine (in the body). I’ll understand my mistakes in a way that I have never understood them before. I’ll be able to see the right turns as well as the wrong turns. I’ll learn how my actions manifested in the lives of others. I’ll get the whole picture.

There will be confession and forgiveness. There will be joy and appreciation. There will be knowledge.

And although I’m sure there will be an great array of missteps and even rebellion, my advocate will step forward and the one choice I made to follow, as best I could, the Christ, will be my defense.

Thanks be to God.

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Acts 8:9-10a, 13a
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great … Simon himself believed and was baptized [by Philip].

I believe there is power and magic outside the faithful in God, otherwise, why would it be included in scripture so casually? Simon did not just practice “magic tricks” but true sorcery. And yet, this very man, Simon, who already had a great following and could manipulate his environment with personal power, recognized truth in Philip’s message. He recognized power greater than his own.

I think Simon also recognized intent.

The apostles, now leaders in espousing the story of the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, had one goal: tell … and show… the power of Jesus. They lived Jesus through their love and actions.

Actions that manifest from trust are easy to do. And confidence in those actions comes from security in the knowledge of the source of power. (…Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Luke 8:46)

Simon had one up on me. Simon knew that miracles could happen every day. Simon knew the world around him was malleable. Simon knew people could be healed, situations transformed, and power tapped. Simon knew all of these things … he knew without doubt.

But still, after 30 years of faith, my doubt corrodes my courage.

It all goes back to intent. Why are we counted among the faithful to labor on His behalf?

Back then, everyone knew there was to be a savior … a messiah. The apostles’ primary message addressed it: the Messiah has come. The kingdom of God has touched the human race through this savior. We can be different.

But does our culture wait for a savior? No. If anything, we are waiting for a judge.

The message of Christ is not just about “eternal salvation.” It’s about change… changing ourselves… changing our world. Touching, healing, loving, speaking, and believing in the power of the Messiah, in the kingdom of God within and without.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” [John 14:12]

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