Christianity, Like Math, Is Hard

Christianity, Like Math, Is Hard November 13, 2019

Oh my word, what should I do? If only there were some objective source, other than my feelings, for me to consult. Oh Well.

So, well, Kanye is going to Lakewood this weekend. So that’s disappointing, but not unexpected. I’ve been busy all week thinking about the parameters of division, and of the judgments necessary to determine when to divide and why. I’m trying to write like two things and they’re not really coming together in my mind. Hopefully they will in the next day or so.

Happily, my slow, halting, progress through the Bible this morning confused matters even further. First I read about Jehu slaughtering all the worshipers of Baal but then not turning out to be that great after all (gosh literally every king of Israel and Judah was a disappointment, why do we have such high expectations for human leaders? Or any expectations at all as it turns out—the only thing about being a leader of any kind is that everyone can see all your sins more clearly. The smaller you are, the less anyone can see how bad you are). Then I landed on this pithy statement from Jesus:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Or, as my dear friend likes to say, “Off I go to cast my fake pearls before real swine, wish me luck!” She has to teach people things, and it’s grindingly difficult with only occasional bright moments of success.

Anyway, the problem with that thing that Jesus said is that it comes at the end of this:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

As with everything in the Christian life, if you take one half of the coin and make it the only part of the coin that matters, you have so many problems. You have to let the coin have both of its sides. You have to not be a judgmental, hypocritical fool on one hand, who never can see how wrong you are, and on the other hand, you have to rightly judge. You have to both ‘not judge’ and ‘judge’ at the same time. This little conundrum is why there are so many bad Christians wandering around the world. Jesus expects the people who love him to think—as best they can, which sometimes isn’t that much—and try to puzzle it out.

I tried, the other day, to go for about ten minutes without making any judgments of any kind, I was just going to be as neutral as possible. I ended up standing still in my own kitchen, paralyzed, because I can’t function without making judgments. To live is to judge. To pick up a cup and put it in the dishwasher is to judge, to see that the cup is dirty, to determine that it needs to be made clean, and then to clean it. To be human is to be a judge. But to be human is to be wrong, also, in a deep, personal, fundamental, inexorable way. And so, to be human is to pretty much always be judging wrongly.

How gracious of God to provide an alien measure by which each person might judge his or her own mind and heart! Open the Bible. Take the difficult and impossible judgments of God, and apply them first to yourself, and then to your circumstances, and finally even to other people. Eventually you will get to the point where you can determine, truly and rightly, that another person is wrong. The blessing is that the process will lead you not to triumph, but to grief.

So anyway, I hope Kanye goes to Lakewood and explains clearly and with words—and with a hefty dose of judgement—to the assembled throng exactly how wrong he, Joel Osteen, is. And I hope the choir is amazing as usual.

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