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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dividing Ourselves by Judgment

by Tom Pappas

Gary told our coffee group about the reunion of Faye’s family where over 120 of nearly 180 potential members came from as far as the two coasts to Texas.  He smiled as  he recounted a few anecdotes and indicated it was a pleasant good time. Still smiling and possibly exaggerating he said that his family would likely amass 8-10 – mostly people who do not get along.

I grieve over the Zimmerman verdict. Right? Wrong? I don’t know. My observation is that it makes America more like Gary’s family than Faye’s. ( And likely “guilty” would have done the same.) I grieve that “good people” are unwilling to expend the energy and hard work to keep our country and churches from dividing themselves. It’s unlikely that we as a country were ever a big happy family, but I feel like in my lifetime we have put on the back burner the impulse to honor and respect “good people” who see it differently. It would be an improvement if the first sentence out of our mouth was, “Oh, that’s another way to look at it.” Too often, it’s, “Fool.” “Idiot.” “Far-left liberal.” “Right-wing bigot.”

A foundational tenet I learned early as a Christian is, “Always believe the best about others.” Sounds easy, but not so much when “judgment DNA” is dominant.  Paul tells us in I Corinthians 5 .   .   .   we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. (The Message)

Many years ago I was a member of the church where I learned about believing the best about others. I felt called then, as I am called now to redouble my efforts to resist the instinct for judgment and division.

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