Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Complicated

photo © 2008 Eric Bartholomew | more info (via: Wylio)
I love to judge people.

I know it’s not nice to say, but it’s totally true. Feeling morally superior to someone might be a cheap thrill, but it’s a thrill nevertheless. I think it’s why I love reality television. My daughter and I love to watch Chopped and pick our favorite chefs and root against people we hate. We’ll form opinions about someone based entirely on a 30 second bio and how they behave during the five minutes we see them cooking in the kitchen. It’s not fair, it's not right and it's certainly not accurate. I could watch way more reality television, but I have to watch myself, as I'm pretty sure the ability to judge strangers every night of the week would just about wipe me out. Like I said, I like judging.

Of course, real life provides me with plenty of opportunities to judge. People act mean to others (or to me). People have an opinion about something that I think is pretty iffy. And don't forget about people who are too judgmental.

Of course, as a Christian, I know that judging isn't really what I'm supposed to be doing. Snippets of Scripture like "judge not lest you be judged" or "remove the plank from your own eye" bounce around in my brain. And I know that Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love one another.

So rather than to judge, I use the go-to Christian phrases that sound like they're about love, but are actually just dressed up judgment. Accountability. Discipleship. Tough love. 

I'll pretend that love is all complicated and twisted and hard to understand.

"Oh, I'm just telling them how wrong they are because I love them. Confronting their sin is the loving thing to do." Then there's usually a story about how it wouldn't be loving to let someone drown or fall off of a cliff or get run over by a train, even if they really wanted to do that.

It's usually pretty predictable.

But what it isn't? Is loving.

I'm not saying those things are bad. Accountability certainly has it's place. Discipline matters. Tough love can be an effective tool.

And do you know what makes those things work? A relationship. When I'm really close to someone, I have probably earned the right to discuss things that might be a bit more difficult.

But truly, in so many cases, that's not what is going on. Instead, I see something that I don't like and I judge. That's it.

Because love isn't really all that complicated.

Yes, loving people can lead to complications, but love itself? It's pretty straight-forward. I know when I'm being loving and when I'm not being loving. In fact, the Bible has given us a handy guide when it comes to determining if what we're doing is loving.

  Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, The Message)

Nothing in that list is easy. Honestly, we're probably going to jack up every single point at one time or another. I've boasted. I've put down. I've been selfish. I've kept score.

But I've loved and I've experienced love. And ultimately, it's just not that complicated.


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