We Must Be Careful Not to Judge Others Based on Who We Are or What We Do
Over the years I’ve heard many people wonder out loud about the validity of another Christian’s faith based on what they do or some aspect of their life. Often this takes the form of, “Can you be a ______ and still be a Christian?” What goes in the blank is both varied and wide-ranging.
Can You Be a Christian?
Lately, here in the United States, I’ve heard political party affiliations inserted into the blank, namely Republican or Democrat. Other times it’s economic philosophies, such as socialist, communist, or capitalist.
For those with a legalistic perspective, various personal activities and lifestyle choices are apt to find themselves inserted into this question. And in other instances, assorted occupations end up in this blank.
And I’ve even heard specific theological perspectives used with this question. Such as, “Can you embrace predestination and still be a Christian?” Of course, the alternate query is, “Can you embrace free will and still be a Christian?” (Check out this example about free will and predestination.)
Come on. Give me a break. Yet I’ve heard these types of questions asked, along with many more, some of which are even more ridiculous.
Wrongly Judging Others
In each instance there is a similar underlying concern. The person asking the question finds living a Christian life—that is, being a follower of Jesus—incompatible with a specific philosophy, lifestyle, action, or vocation—which others espouse, and they avoid.
From their perspective, from their worldview, they see a disconnect they can’t reconcile. Yet they are judging others with wrong motives. James warns against this (James 4:11-12).
Therefore we should not concern ourselves with others, but focus on our own behaviors, placing our trust in God. Only he should judge us. Only he can save us.
Jesus Wants Us to Follow Him
Jesus calls everyone to follow him. He doesn’t care about our politics, philosophy, or occupation. He gives us love and offers acceptance. He embraces those who have a sincere interest in pursuing a relationship with him. Even those who remain undecided receive a gentle answer.
A Personal Decision
Yes, there are certain types of work I would not do and certain lifestyle choices I avoid, but these are personal decisions based on how I determine to best pursue my faith in God and what it means to me to be a follower of Jesus.
It would be wrong for me to apply my ideals to other people who may make other decisions about how to best pursue their faith.
The key point is that we have Jesus in common. The essential consideration is that we’re doing our best to follow him on our journey of life. Along the way, we will all fall short and miss the mark. But Jesus offers us mercy and grace when we do.
Through Jesus we will spend our afterlife with him—regardless of some of the secondary decisions we may have made along the way as we navigated our journey.
Thank you, Jesus!
[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is James 4-5, and today’s post is on James 4:11-12.]
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.
2 replies on “Can You Be a ____ and Still Be a Christian?”
Following Jesus carries some risk. Yes as a follower you will have everlasting life and if you are not stepping up and walking the talk, Jesus will be sure to tell you and perhaps call you a blasphemer or a hypocrite. Many people see themselves as walking the talk as did the Pharisees Jesus criticised. I think Paul makes a good point by saying: I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man; yet because I had acted in ignorance and unbelief, I was shown mercy (1 Timothy 1:13).
The Gospel Story makes it seem like following Jesus is merely a three year journey and many in their zeal get fired up like Paul and persecute their neighbour and join protest marches and hurl stoney insults or actual stones to insure justice prevails or the politically correct view is adopted. Truth is multifaceted and wisdom does come with maturity. And as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11, When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside childish ways.
Thanks Peter for posting and sharing your faith journey with others.
Linda, thanks for the reminder of Paul. We can learn an important lesson from him.