[ ATTRIBUTE: Thanks to Pascal for use of this Creative Commons License 2.0 photo. Pascal’s Flickr page may be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/71007649@N00/3218797702]


I am reading a great book by James Richards called “How to Stop the Pain” which describes how we put ourselves into bondage resulting from our judgments about other people, ideas and groups. Our judgments lock us into a particular frame of mind and cause us to only see things that support our own beliefs.

For instance, my pro-animal rights exchange student daughter read two books about the benefits of vegetarianism and the evils of eating meat while she was in the USA. I thought about giving her a book that would challenge her views on God but stopped when I realized I am guilty of the same thing. Would I ever read a book on the evils of eating meat? Well, no….not without a piece of bacon crusted deep dish pepperoni from Little Caesars to enjoy in the process….

Can We Change Our Mind?

Richards wrote the following: Our minds will allow us to see something from a different viewpoint only when we release our judgments. Only when we release (repent of) our judgments. For example, if I hold the belief that all liberals are socialists who hate America, it will be impossible for me to objectively consider their views. Not that I have to agree with them, but the closed-mindedness prevents me from understanding why they believe what they believe. It prevents me from knowing their heart.

In short, judgments of other people rob us of our ability to love them in the way Christ modeled. It is not my job to try to decide (judge) why someone thinks what they think, it is only my job to love them. How do you love someone you don’t understand? To understand who they are, my deeply engrained opinions have to be re-examined, not just for accuracy but for motive.

Why do I get so spun up when someone disagrees with me about the origin of the universe or abortion or politics? Its because those things are so important, you say. That’s true, but that’s not the full reason. When you feel anger at those who disagree, you can bet there is a judgment there. “They are saying this because they think I’m stupid”. “They are trying to control me”. “They are just _____ (fill in the blank)…”. Whenever you act (consciously or not) based on your opinion of why they believe that way, in absence of understanding, you are judging the other person.

Believe and Love

We are warned extensively about this in scripture by JC himself (Matthew 7:1-5; 1 John 1:8; Luke 17:1). We must be cautious not to be a source of judgment or offense. Our role is to believe in Christ (faith) and to love those around us.

That’s it. That’s our entire job. Believe and love.

Love isn’t always easy, but it is always the standard that Jesus desires us to live. We are to be salt in the earth. Salt’s main job is to season and preserve – to make things better than they would be without it. Better tasting. Longer lasting. Applied to relationships, this leaves no room for thoughts like “they are just _____”. Yeah, particularly in family relationships.

I have blown this so many times I can’t even begin to count, so I am challenging myself to do something a little different.

I am going to read a book or two or three written by political leftists, liberals, or humanists. I have never done this before. Like my exchange daughter, I have always read books that support my beliefs or teach me to “defend my beliefs” more effectively. The fact is, no one cares about my beliefs until I make the effort to love and understand them. That’s why the church in the US is ineffective. We have judged and imposed our ways on society for decades and now we are reaping what we have sown – angry, short-sighted judgment on who we are and why we are that way.

Its frustrating when someone doesn’t take the time to know and understand you, isn’t it? When they think you are a bigot, a prude, or worse simply because you are a Christian. Its time to turn the tide. To understand before we seek to be understood.

So, Gwinnett County Public Library and Kindle book store, here I come. May the effort prove fruitful.

If you have taken extreme steps to love or understand someone way different than you, please share in the comments. Its an area we all could use a little inspiration and hope in. Its also an area that God can work miracles in.

Thanks be to the One in us who IS our hope of glory…..

Jeff McKinney
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Jeff McKinney

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Jeff McKinney
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