The Argument/Compaint: So now that you’re a ‘Christian’ you think you are better than everyone and get to judge everyone else. Religion is all the same, people just use it to pretend they are superior.
On the contrary. Prior to becoming a Christian I judged everyone extremely harshly, building up grudges against people for their mistakes or choices that developed into anger and eventually hatred; even for myself as I often fell short of my own expectations.
I too hated condescending ‘religious types’, especially ones who didn’t practice what they preached yet somehow seemed to think they were better than the rest of us. In my mind their hypocrisy was far worse than any non-religious person’s actions.
The Bible however says in numerous places NOT to judge unbelievers (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37, James 4:12, Romans 2:1-3, etc.). That it is God and God alone who judges, and part of being a Christian is accepting that and learning to love people either way. I’m not saying I condone the actions of people who are doing terrible things or that I’m all for the whole ‘tolerance’ movement becoming popular in many societies; but it’s not my place to judge others regardless of their actions.
Being able to let go of that frustration and anger I harbored towards people was a huge weight off my soul, and my interpersonal relationships with people have flourished as a result.
Additionally, I certainly can make no claims that I’m perfect. Part of being a Christian is also accepting that we are all sinners and have all fallen short (Romans 3:23, Romans 3:10) and that all sin is equal (James 2:10-11); so who am I to judge? I’m no better and no worse than anyone else, it’s only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that I have been made blameless (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Now on the flip side of that coin, if we are talking about someone who professes to be a Christian and is continually, willfully and knowingly going against what God has instructed in the Bible, then we as Christian’s are called to respectfully and humbly try to point out the error in our fellow believer’s life if they are unaware of it. If they are still refusing to change and continue practicing hypocrisy, then we are instructed not to associate with that individual any more (1 Corinthians 5:11, Matthew 18:15-17). So I suppose in a sense we are instructed to ‘judge’ fellow believers (but NOT unbelievers) in this manner… Although in my mind ‘judge’ isn’t quite the right word for this scenario.
But that also completely makes sense. When someone finds out I’m a ‘Christian’ and then automatically associates me with child molesting priests we hear about in the news or hypocrites or extremists or any other similar people or organization, I don’t want to just say something like:
“Well, yes they did those terrible things and all but, you know, I’m not supposed to judge anyone so I’ll just love them and let them continue doing what they’re doing, God will take care of it.”
Instead, I want to, and can say something like:
“That is absolutely not what being a Christian is and what the bible instructs and I have no association whatsoever with those people, and I make every effort to prevent what they are doing and oppose them.”
To sum up, being a Christian (at least this is what I believe) according to what the Bible says is, despite popular opinion, not about judging and being better than others. That being said, it’s not about tolerance or being amicable or taking the road of least resistance either. It’s also not about about being a ‘good’ person.
It’s about recognizing there is a need in our lives for change and peace and accepting that it’s God that can bring about that change and that it’s His plans that are best for us, not our own. It’s about learning to love one another instead of berating and ridiculing, and to trust in a God that loves us despite our countless faults. It is not about following a set of rules or meeting some standard or measuring others, it’s about a personal relationship with God.