The flip side of judgement is that we judge in order to find the good, the beautiful, and the true. That’s what I wrote about here.
But this flip side of judgement is precisely why we fear judgment.
What if I can’t find the good, the beautiful, or the true?
Worse yet, what if someone judges me in the light and determines to be true what I believe about myself in the dark: I am not good. I am not beautiful. I am not true.
This underlying fear is what I believe moves us to react so strongly against any kind of judgment.
Of course it is true that people make poor judgments all the time. Also, when we allow or invite someone to pass judgment on us, we are giving them a power over us.
Sometimes our outcry against judgment stems from the fact that we do not want to give another person, or a particular person, any kind of power over us.
That is at the heart of the phrase, “Who are you to judge me?”
What we are really saying is, “I might not meet your criteria or my own, and I reject your power over me.” In a number of cases this is absolutely the right response.
There are times to reject the judgment of people who will tell you that you will never be anything, or that you will never accomplish anything. There are people who have no right to attempt to gain power over you by judging you.
Yet, what if there was a judge who could judge justly? What if that judge had the right to render judgment and exercise power over us? It’s hard to imagine such a judge, right?
Jesus, during his earthly ministry, made a lot of judgements. His harshest words tended to go toward the most conservative religionists of his day. His judgment was against those who were unfairly judging and usurping power over others.
Jesus had a way of nailing everyone so that they could not get away from his judgements, but in the case of those on the edge of society he had a way of making a judgment that was more like an invitation.
It was an invitation to see ourselves rightly and yet to also receive grace from him, the one who has the power to call out and condemn the worst in us.
There is no better picture of this than in John chapter 21 where Jesus restores Peter after denying Jesus three times. Peter runs toward the man who could condemn him. He see himself rightly – that he is not beautiful, good, or true – and he receives grace from the one whom he denied.
In that moment of receiving grace, Peter becomes what he was not – beautiful, good, and true. Jesus gives him the mission to feed his sheep.
For someone reading this, it could still sound like a fairy tale. The world is a harsh place and we have enough experience to know that there are more usurpers than grace-givers out there.
But maybe, just maybe, there is one who exists who can see the worst of us and not only draw out the best in us – but also put his best into us, so that we can pour out grace to others.
That’s a fairy tale I’d like to wake up to in reality. But first I have to find out what keeps me from this? Is it fear of not measuring up? Or is it a refusal to grant power due to another?
Which one is it for you?