I was speaking to a Comparative Religions Class at a local university on the topic of the early church councils. Much of the early debate of our spiritual ancestors revolved around the nature of Christ. Councils were called to settle disagreements.
The Council of Nicea (325) was called to settle the controversy the followers of Arius promoted by teaching that there was a time when Christ did not exist. The Council of Nicea met to decide: “Was Jesus Christ God or was He just a man?”
Teaching about the Council of Nicea led beautifully into asking the class the same question. I took a less direct approach.
I asked, “Have you ever been offended by someone telling you Jesus is the only way?” All but three were quick to agree. This was a secular university.
I responded, “I’m a follower of Jesus and I ask your forgiveness for others who name His name and use His words to condemn you. Jesus said He didn’t come into the world to condemn it. I’m sorry for the others who have done it in His name.”
That got their attention, so I continued, “It would be perfectly legitimate to feel offended at Jesus, if He was just a man and He said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’
But what if He was more than a man? What if He was the one who put 400 million stars in our galaxy and 400 million galaxies in our universe, and who knows how many more universes there are left to imagine? What if there was no philosophy good enough and no good work great enough to measure up to the standard of such a Being beyond our comprehension?
It would mean Jesus wasn’t being exclusive when He said He was the Way. It would mean He was being inclusive, making a way where we couldn’t make one on our own.”
The students sat in stunned silence. More than a few were wiping tears from their eyes.
It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). So why do we act as if it’s our judgmental attitudes that will lead others to it?
The discussion around judging goes beyond that because we live in a fallen world where fallen people – and even the redeemed – pass judgement without full knowledge. We have all been unfairly judged and some have been condemned of sin without thought to reconciliation. We’re told to judge, and told not to judge. So how to we judge without being a jerk?
Let’s start by getting a clearer understanding of what the Bible says concerning judging… that comes in the next post.