Opinions are like bellybuttons.
Everybody’s got one.
Some think they are entitled to theirs.
To shout it from the rooftops.
Wave a sign in front of your face.
Disrupt a dinner.
Harass you in your home.
That was the experience of many an elected official
and many government employees over the last few years.
And some “regular” people too.
When did we get to the point where we felt this entitled?
Where our opinions trump everyone else’s?
I was in SPD on Sunday morning before services
and an older gentlemen was ranting about the Mine Protesters
who would be walking in the Constitution Day Parade later that afternoon.
He called them ignorant.
He went on to berate the younger generation for not wanting work hard anymore. All of this to the clerk who was ringing up his groceries.
Oh, and everybody else in the store near him.
Whether we wanted to hear him or not.
Again, when did we get so entitled?
Judgement of another is so counterproductive to good community.
It puts a damper on things.
It makes many feel uncomfortable.
It keeps some from connecting.
Paul knew this.
It’s why he writes about it to the Church in Rome.
Both Jews and Gentiles.
Because people can be judgy.
Especially if they are from different cultures.
If they speak different languages.
Or have different customs.
Like the Jews and the Gentiles did.
So many rules.
This was life as a Jew.
The Gentiles didn’t share their sensibilities.
Eating Kosher meant nothing to them.
Observing Sabbath was a foreign concept.
And you can bet judgement came the Gentiles way.
The Jews lorded their moral superiority over them.
And judged them for their “shortcomings.”
And I am sure the Gentiles found things to judge the Jews for as well.
But this makes for really bad community.
Especially if you are a new Church.
Which they were.
Which is why in the epistle reading from Romans this week Paul writes,
“Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another?”
“It is before their own Lord that they stand or fall.”
As I said on Sunday, judgement is God’s domain.
is something we may do.
As much as is needed according to Jesus.
Peter asks Jesus how much he needs to forgive someone that sins against him.
“Seven times,” Peter asks?
“No,” Jesus says.
“Seventy seven times.” (and in some translations, seventy times seven).
Loose translation on how many times we offer forgiveness….A LOT.
Offer it often.
Like an overzealous flower power hippie seeking non-violent change.
Or a young child with a lollipop who is quick to offer their treat to you.
Because of the realization that the weight of the forgiveness God grants to us
Is so small compared to that of those who sin against us.
Not to mention that forgiveness will need to come our way too sometime.
John says it this way,
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned,
we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”1 John 1:8-10
And, to get back to what I was saying earlier,
Do not judge.
Judgement does not accomplish the will of God.
It misses the mark.
Which is what hamartia means.
The Greek work for sin.
Missing the mark.
And it misses the mark because it destroys community.
Contributes to bad behavior
And an apathetic response towards being community.
It creates a hesitation to wanting to lean into the lives of those around us.
Let’s not do it.
Let’s, instead, be curious about the lives of those around us.
The people we do not know.
People that may have things in common with us.
And people who may be vastly different then we are.
I cannot count the number of times I have learned something new about someone
that has given me a deeper appreciation for them
and thankfulness that I get to be in community with them.
Let us walk forward in this way together.