Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Judging Not

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" Matthew 7: 1-2

My husband and I grew up a denomination that is authoritarian in structure with a set hierarchy and unbending rules and traditions. After we were married and had had our first child, we began to question some of the teachings and traditions of this denomination and began seeking a greater knowledge of and intimacy with the Lord than we had known. Through a series of events, God-incidents, if you will, we were led to our church. We've been there for over eight years now. It is a small, non-denominational, Christian church in which the Word of God is taught simply and without apology, where God is glorified through worship and prayer and the body of Christ is bound together in love and friendship. T. and I have been blessed to serve in ministry in many capacities here and are happy to be raising our children in this place.

As I shared in an earlier post, our children attend a Christian school. This school is run by a church in a mainstream Protestant denomination. We love the school. Our children are getting a first-rate academic education in a warm, nurturing, Christian environment where the Word of God is freely shared, prayers are offered up and communal worship takes place each week. However, there are times when I am somewhat disappointed in decisions that are made because it seems to me that tradition trumps the freedom we have in Christ or because ecumenicism dilutes the Gospel. It is at those times when I am tempted to (and I'm ashamed to admit often do) fall into judgment and cynicism against the school, the denomination, the church and/or its leadership. It's at those times that I am tempted to (and again ashamed to admit I often do) believe that the school and church are dead spiritually, despite the Gospel they preach. Then I begin to fret about whether we have our children in the right school and about whether we are exposing them to dead religion and what the ramifications of that could be.

It's at those times that God is always faithful to enter the scene. Take this evening for an example. Tonight we decided to attend Lessons and Carols service at the church that is affiliated with our school. The school's Select (audition only) Choir was singing at the service and we had never seen them sing. I wanted to the opportunity to slow down and meditate on the Lord and His birth. The kids wanted to hear carols sung. We arrived early and got a great seat in the second row. As I began to peruse the program for the evening, I felt the familiar feelings of judgment creeping in. As the program began, I began to wonder if we should have gone out on this very cold night. Then God began speaking to me through the words of the beautiful, though completely unfamiliar carols, being sung by the angelic voices of children. And He whispered to me through the words He had spoken to Moses and the prophets and the apostles that were read by the pastors and teachers. He reminded me, "where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

It's in these moments that He removes my fret and frees me to worship Him in spirit and in truth no matter where I am, who is there and what is being sung. He gently convicts me, as only He can, and reminds me that is not my place to judge. He quickly forgives and restores me when I confess. He reminds me that He can take my breath away, make my heart burst with joy and fill my eyes with tears of gratitude no matter where I am or what form the service is taking, if only I allow myself to set my mind upon Him. Oh, and that gives me such peace not only for me in the moment but also each morning as I send my children off to school! I know He will meet them there, too, as long as they seek Him!

It turned out to be a beautiful evening, well worth braving the cold and keeping the kids up past their bedtime. I was happy to support the children in the choir and the choir director, who is also our school's music teacher. I was blessed to watch our five year old son's eyes flutter and close as he was lulled to sleep by the sounds of the choir, the organ, the flute and the trumpet. But most of all, I was thrilled to have spent time with my Savior and to remember how He came to this Earth as promised!

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