Belong judging

Judging to Belong

Husband and son enjoying karting for son’s birthday. Lots of judging went on during this afternoon as we watched groups of other people also enjoying their day. Many were stage and hen parties. March 2023. Photo taken by myself

I think this might fit in with the last few blogs.

I’ve been pondering judging others and Jesus comment about “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged” Matthew 7:1-2. Yet we do all judge on a regular basis. We are continually putting others into that “good box/bad box” But I think we do it so we can be safe, because we’re scared.

It is easier to make a judgement call on others than really get to know them, easier to put them in a box than lift the lid on them. But I think that is because we want to belong.

Jesus as that we will be judged in the same way as we judge others. I think too often we’ve thought of that as God doing the judging but I think it is each and everyone of us. So if I think of myself with my own internal labels of good/bad behaviour, of what makes a good Christian/writer/person of my age/add your own then I judge that person over there as being either part of my clique or not then I decide if I am going to like them or not, if I am going to let them get close or not. But I do it all much more for my benefit than for theirs. I want to be surrounded by people who will affirm my beliefs, behaviours, tastes, etc so that I have a group I am apart of.

I think there are not just Christian denominations but others groups, but it is the Christian ones I know best, who say if you do x then you are a better Christian than those over there. If you get involved and do things, behave like someone else, but in actuality it is when we are truly who we were made to be, our genuine selves, that we belong fully, especially to God.

I’ve just started a new job four afternoons a week. It is the first job I have ever had, I think, where I haven’t wanted to “fit it” and because of that I am being my genuine self. Yes it has helped that I have got rid of some of the things that held me back from being genuine. I am finding that I am really enjoying the job and I think that is because, even though I am hearing that things are not perfect and that there are things that the old-needing-to-fit-in-me would have been hurt by, I am not judging, but also not needing to temper myself to be “part of the clique”.

There is a freedom in not judging others, in not being fearful of not fitting in with culture one is in. It is not stepping out of the culture but not needing to be part of it, or even not needing to oppose it. Opposing is a judgement call as much as needing to know the “rules” to fit in.

The need to judge other and to belong is a survival mechanism but there is so much more freedom in not having to judge and being one’s genuine, authentic self.

Much of this post came from thoughts I had from a video and newsletter from the daughter of friends of mine who is on mission with Ywam in the Pacific. I felt the only way to end this was by taking a quote from our email conversation.

“I think it is very common to want to do things to get peoples validation and feel like you belong. But in the Kingdom of God you belong by simply abiding. My friend, Julie, introduced me to the song abide by kingdom culture. I love it! It says “there’s no striving, just abiding“, how beautiful that all we have to do is abide in the Lord. And with abiding in the Lord comes being yourself and not having to worry.”

Amaris, Ywam Ships Kona. April 2023
Believe Belong

Belonging Before Believing?

Lindisfarne Castle taken by myself Sept 2022

There is a saying in a lot of churches that we should encourage people to “Belong” before they start “believing” but on a walk with a friend the other day we got to pondering this. I might not get all the conversation but I’ll put down some of they key points I remember and that have got me thinking not just about church but about the town I live in and the projects I’m getting involved with there.

Would you want to go to someone’s house if you did not know who they were? And what if you did go but didn’t know the etiquette? Would you want to go back again? Also what if someone took you to someone’s house but they didn’t know the way you were to behave because they didn’t know the owner of the house, how would you both feel?

A sample of the questions from our conversation on Saturday

I think that if the person who takes someone to the House of God knows God really well they can help and support that person through the intricacies of who they are meeting with. They know what to do. They ease the way. They can make things feel safe. But if that person doesn’t know God that well, or even has had a tiring week and wants to just curl up with God, then they may not be able to help their visitor through the spaces needed. The visitor comes away having had an ok time but they still haven’t come close to meeting with God, meeting the being whose house they have entered.

My thoughts are that if I bring someone to meet with God I have to have a relationship with God and be in the right frame of mind to want to share that relationship.

I often think we try to rush that whole process. So we are encouraged to get people “through the door” so to speak so they feel like they belong to the community, when in fact they are just going through the motions but not meeting the being of God. Instead we need to slow things down, deepen our relationship with God and then get others to meet our friend, our creator, our lover, the one who thinks we’re awesome even when we screw up, the one who loves us unconditionally.

When I was doing Qigong this morning Mark, who leads it, was talking about fire and what we need for fire. We need a spark, we need kindling but to keep the fire really going we need a solid seasoned log that won’t burn up quickly, will keep going for the time needed.

Qigong might not be Christian per se but so often God speaks through it [because if God is as big as we are taught then God is in all and everything anyway] And for me that quick way of getting people to belong in a church community is the quick kindling and if we don’t have the solid seasoned log of our relationship with The Creator of the Universe then the belonging may never become believing because belonging fits all the component parts that that person needs.

adventure Aslan being me belief Bible blessing christian faith hero U2 unconditional love walking

Why I’m still a Christian

I’ve written around this theme before but can’t find the posts to tag them. I am writing this now because I have been given an journaling exercise that is post-heroic. And I’m doing it without pictures for a change

I “became a Christian”, as the phrase was then, because I met something that amazed and astonished me. Yes I was lonely. I had just had my son and was living with someone who wasn’t his father in a house with other people. It was not a safe time. But something inside me was urging me to change. Some well-meaning Christians came along and knocked on my door. I went to their coffee morning and then I went to their church. I experienced an amazing spiritual encounter where I know that I met with the God who made the universe who told me He loved me and felt like I was being covered in a viscose glittery substance. I have since been told that was a Holy Spirit encounter. To me, at that time, it was like meeting the entity that made me, made my world, looked deep into who I was and how I was living and said “you may not being doing it all right but I like you. Come on let’s walk together.”
Since that time I read the Bible loads, studied Christian doctrine, theology, right ways to be a Christian, been on mission, led prayer journeys and set up prayer groups, done all that stuff and in doing it totally agreed with the U2 song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” I’ve blogged on this and pondered this. I’ve tried to tame the mystery even though I know in my head “he is not a tame lion.”
I have reached a point in my Christian life where I am no longer wanting to be heroic, no longer wanting to tame the lion, understand the mystery. I have seen God let me down by letting people I know and love die with horrendous timing so that anniversaries of untimely deaths come at a time when we are trying to celebrate birthdays. I have seen God not come through on some dream that I believed He had promised me we would fulfil together. I have been angry and hurt and let down when it felt as if the mystery of God had turned out to be hollow.
Today I turn a corner. No that’s way too dramatic. Today I have decided to let the mystery out of the box and fly. I may never experience the viscous covering again, may never have a request answered as I like, but I know I have reached a point where I want to just hang out with the mystery, where I just want to be with whatever it is that I have tried to box as God.
So I’m still a Christian because I have decided that just as I don’t need all the answers neither does God need to tell them all to me; just as I don’t need to get it right all the time neither does God have to do what I think is right. I might even stop doing but learn to start practising and start just being. Not in that cheesy “oh I’m a human being not a human doing” but in that way that says it’s ok to just be me and for God to just be God, and for other people to just be who they are.
So I am still a Christian because there are no answers, no right ways, no clear paths but I do know that even through those dark paths the mystery that I call God is more than happy to walk with me and all my whinging and moaning and He still says “you may not being doing it all right but I like you. Come on let’s walk together.”