“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
It is always interesting when I work the opening shift. I work at Starbucks, and the opening shift starts at 4:15am. Living obscenely far away as I always have, it’s a good twenty-five minute drive to get to work. This, of course, results in me waking up at about 3:30am on these mornings.
I say the shift is interesting probably not for the reason most would expect. Thus far, I have not had too much trouble staying awake at work. As long as I get to bed early enough, I will end up with about six hours of sleep. Which is not enough. Still. As a morning person, and someone who generally enjoys getting stuff done at the beginning of the day, I have actually found that I enjoy my early morning shifts.
My manager saw me after my shift ended and before oI clocked out this morning. She smiled and said, “you looked like you are enjoying yourself. Are you having fun?” I answered in the affirmative. “I like people.” That was my reasoning.
As I drove home, something in my brain went, “I like people? Is that really why I have been enjoying the morning shifts? I like people anyway. Any job when I work with people I can generally find some enjoyment in.”
What’s odd is that, this morning, I had the following conversation with a coworker.
The worker is one of my shift leaders and I have known for a while that he is gay. I was not particularly bothered since, as a dancer, I have become used to being friends with all types of people. That is one reason why I say “I like people”. Both he and I are dancers, although he danced only for a few years.
I had just mentioned that I never really got to dance with any guys since I was average sized. At my studio, average was the unspoken group known as the ‘fat’ girls. Which is ridiculous and completely untrue.
He mentioned a girl who he had danced with often. Apparently, she really did not like him and tended to be rather abrasive and curt whenever she talked to him. As he was explaining that he had spent nearly five months trying to figure out why she did not like him, he said, “for a while I thought she hated me because she was a Christian.” Leaving out the statement, “and I am gay” as a given in the thought.
Honestly, I was a bit taken aback. I know that there is a stigma against Christians that we are all mean and hypocritical and that we hate everyone else because we are so judgmental. But there is something different about hearing that from the mouth of someone who has felt that judgement before. At least, I assume that. Perhaps I should not.
Either way, I decided not to approach that issue for the time being. As I am still a very new partner and I did not want to allow a coworker to make an assumption about how I perceive him because of my being a Christian.
I say I like people. That may not completely be my true feelings. I love people not because I am good at that, but because the grace of God has allowed me to look past the outer layer of how people act to why they act that way. Perception is powerful. This gift has allowed me to love people that many would say are terrible people. Instead, I have asked for God’s eyes in different situations to help me approach people in a way that honors Him.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
This all begs the question:
How do we respond to the stigma around religion and Christianity?
The question comes from a complex place, but the answer is simple. I will start with the premise, where the question is coming from.
Judgment has long been a cited reason for abandoning or disliking Christians. Mahatma Gandhi famously said: ”
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
How painful is that? Unbeknownst to Gandhi, this very reason separates Christianity from other religions. Most religions focus on what a person’s life looks like on the outside. Are they doing well? Making money? Are they kind people? Etc. etc. In other words, every religion apart from Christianity focuses on how we can make ourselves better in our own strength. But Christianity goes against everything in our sin nature. That includes our desire to get better without God’s help. The point is that we cannot make ourselves good enough for God.
“How then can a man be just with God?
Or how can he be clean who is born of woman?
“If even the moon has no brightness
And the stars are not pure in His sight,
How much less man, that maggot,
And the son of man, that worm!”
Where this question comes from is also the beginning of the answer. Which is the simple truth: Love. God said the first commandment should be to love God with everything we’ve got, and to love others. Loving others does not mean allowing sin, but accepting them as the child of God they were made to be.
Be blessed today.