Not long ago, a guy came to our city. He arrived in a gigantic tour bus and he had a police escort and he stood on the steps of our Capital building and drew a great crowd. I was not surprised by his appearance. All around town, for weeks, there had been posted fliers and posters and placards announcing his arrival. I saw the announcements, made a mental note of the date, and reminded myself to avoid the area that day.
This guy and I? We do not see the world the same way. Despite the fact that we both love Jesus, the things this guy says often make me roll my eyes. Jesus knew this about us. He knew our salvation was no guarantee we’d always agree with one another.
By a clever turn of events, despite my best intentions, there I was: standing in the crowd when this certain guy came to our city. I prayed before I went, knowing all too well my propensity toward mumbling something unsavory under my breath and building a wall around my heart so no love can get in, or out. “God,” I said out loud to the air around me, “help me to see what you see.”
I stood on the sidewalk, struggling with myself to stop being judgmental. I confessed—moment after moment—my bad feelings about this guy and the throngs of people who’d come out to our city to show him their support.
All I can tell you is that I kept up a furious cycle of praying and confessing, praying and confessing, praying and confessing. I prayed that God would show me what he saw, and I confessed when I cast judgement on someone in the crowd.
Here’s the thing: It’s not our role to judge. That’s Jesus’ job, and he knows what he’s doing. My job, while standing in a crowd of people who see the world differently than I do, was to love them. Period. The end.
Jesus gave us clear instructions. If I’m wrong, he’ll let me know. If you’re wrong, I’ve got to trust the work of the Holy Spirit in your life to reveal your missteps to you. In the meantime, the very clear commandment we’ve been given boils down to four letters: L-O-V-E. When my motive is anything but love, I’m on my way down a slippery slope.
How do we get to love? We get there through a furious cycle of prayer and confession, prayer and confession, prayer and confession. We keep asking God to help us see what he sees, and we keep on confessing when we slip over into judgmental attitudes about other people.
Some Questions for You: Who are the people of faith that see the world differently than you? Have you been keeping them at arm’s length? Have you been judging them, or loving them?
Note: A version of this article first appeared at Life for Leaders. Life for Leaders is an online resource sponsored by the Max De Pree Center (Dr. Mark D. Roberts, executive director) at Fuller Theological Seminary. If you’re a leader and the idea of daily encouragement sounds intriguing to you, check out Life for Leaders, and subscribe for daily devotionals.