In the last two weeks I have heard about my fair share of the Lord's displeasure with our being judgmental that I am starting to think He is trying to tell me something. I have heard about a pastor God chastised in not too kind terms for her judgmental approach to church leadership.
As I was still digesting the consequences of that particular case, I was told about the anguish of another senior pastor who found out that the senior ministers in the church had been taking it upon themselves to kick "grave sinners" out of ministry and by extension church.
At some point in our walk with salvation, we are all guilty of taking over God's seat and passing judgment over who is wrong and who is right. The thing is, the line between trying to be "my brother's keeper" and being outright judgmental is so blurred, you may even not notice you are crossing it.
But God's standards are not simple to meet. He expects righteousness from us, but does not want us to obsess over our neighbour's speck when our own eyes can hardly see because of the logs in them.
Of course God does not expect us to abuse the grace just because it is sufficient, as the apostle Paul says, but He wants us to rebuke one another in love. What was becoming common in Pentecostal churches, though, was the practice of throwing people out of church because they sinned in ways we felt were graver than our own sins.
Sin is sin. A liar, adulterer and homosexual will burn in the same pit of fire; so, let us know we are all in church for the same reason: to be transformed into better people. The church is a hospital and school and the sick and ignorant (the Bible says God's people perish for lack of knowledge) need it more than anyone else.
Of course the fear is that 'one rotten tomato can spoil the whole basket'. True; and God does not expect us to turn the other way when a brother or sister is going astray. We are expected to help them.
In church. By counseling, praying with and for them and even rebuking them. But not to send them away and basically condemn them to hell. That is not our place. Especially if we remember where the Lord picked us from and what kind of filth some of us had sunk into before His grace fished us out.