Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  John 3:16-17.

Now let me say this very clearly, if God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn it, I seriously doubt that he sent you.

Christians must learn to resist the self-righteous temptation to judge others.

We are called to love, and that love includes patience, kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, and humility. We are called to love, and we are repeatedly warned not to judge.

Why is this so hard for us? Is it easier to look at the speck in our neighbor’s eye than it is to remove the log from our own? Why have the followers of Jesus failed at this simple admonition not to judge?

No one arrives in this world complete; we are formed by the life experiences, traumas, and opportunities that come our way as we are maturing. We are all products of our raising, and not everyone has the same chance in life.

We do not need to understand the life choices of another, or approve of their decisions, but we need not add to their life challenges by sitting in judgment of them.

God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, and God certainly did not send you. I want to share the words of Lutheran theologian Martin Marty:

“When God is God, then everyone is welcome, and the church is not a club. When God is God, sinners are welcome, and the church is not a society of achievers. When God is God, inquirers are treated with respect, for God does not force anything on anyone. When God is God, the church is inviting: it sends out invitations in God’s name and does what it can to make its worship and ways inviting.”

The Christian Church is no longer in a privileged position in the United States. In many circles the church is no longer trusted or respected. Our children and grandchildren are skeptical of organized religion. There are many reasons for this, most of them valid, and of our own making. We must own our part in the decline of Christianity and return to the teachings of Jesus.

We are called to love our neighbors: we are called to serve our neighbors, we are called to extend welcome and extravagant hospitality. We are called to work for peace and justice. But we are not called to sit in judgment of anyone.

One beggar telling another beggar where to find food, I am,

Your Pastor Jim

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