I remember reading Matthew 7 early in life and jumping to the conclusion that if the measure we use in judgment against others will therefore be used against us then we should not make any kind of judgments about anything and we’ll all get to heaven based on a lack of measuring rod! Seems logical, right? I’m continually enjoying Hauerwas’ commentary on Matthew and really liked his opening to chapter 7.
“Those formed to live trusting in God’s abundance will not find it odd that Jesus tells us not to judge. Yet no teaching of Jesus seems more paradoxical than his prohibition against judging. Any attempt to avoid judging is defeated by the judgment against those who judge. Moreover, Jesus obviously is in the business of judgment, particularly judgments against the scribes and the Pharisees who “sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt 23:2). Any attempt to avoid judging seems self-defeating. Yet the paradoxical character of Jesus’ admonition against judging is the result of our attempt to separate Jesus’ teaching from the teacher and the community he has come to establish.”
We, as Christians, have been called to become a disciple of Jesus. This means that we are to learn to see and accept the world as God’s world. We do not need to confuse this with being God. We are not called to be God but to see that world as God does and learn to be a creature of God.
The Sermon on the Mount is broken down into three chapters. Chapter 5 shows us that to be a follower of Jesus we must be a visible alternative to the world. We do things differently from the world. When you look at Christians and then look at the world and don’t see a difference, you know something is wrong. Chapter 6 displays the simple and hidden character of the life to we as disciples are called. Both of these chapters were designed to help us see that we have been called to separate from the community we once belonged and join the community we have been called to in Jesus. The boundaries between those of us who follow Jesus and the rest of the world is unambiguously clear, but permeable nonetheless. Matthew 7 is where Jesus shows us how to negotiate the permeable nature of that boundary.
When we were called into this new community, we were not called to a “higher standard” within this world but a different way of living all together. We live drastically different from the world around us but are we to hold the world to the same standard that we have been given in Christ? I struggle with this to be honest. I want to make sure the world knows that they way they are living is wrong. They need to know this. When someone asks me for my opinion about a situation, or a stance on a subject, I tell them. Judging is a touchy subject right now. The main point I want to get across is that the “standard” we live by, and that we are tempted to judge the world by, has been given to us in Christ and is a completely different way of living from those who are around us. The problem is, we often fail to live out that standard because it is hard. It requires picking up the cross.
As a community of Christians, living in an increasingly critical society, let me put forth a challenge from Matthew 7 this morning. Lets be known by the community surrounding us for how the see us live and less by what they hear us judge. They know what we stand against. Lets now show them the love of Christ from the cross.