Sunday, February 1, 2009

Judgement And Forgiveness


Over the course of many years, I have come to learn many very important lessons regarding spiritual freedom. One of the hardest and yet most important lessons, has to do with judgement. I think no clearer lessons can be learned by mankind than to turn loose of our tendencies to pass harsh judgement on anyone and anything that doesn't fit our own definitions of normal, right, or acceptable. Now, I'm not saying some types of judgment aren't warranted or wise, but I believe we have to accept the things we are qualified and capable of judging and recognize those things which we have no right whatsoever to judge about a person or their actions.

For instance, judging criminals is a must in our society for the purpose of keeping the peace and maintaining order in the world. However, I think we must stop and realize that if we're going to punish people and judge them, those judgements only go as far as this world will let them. It is stupid to think that we can safely say that the punishments we dish out in this world carry over to anything beyond this existence. Punishing people for crimes is a good thing but can you also at the same time forgive them of those crimes?

This is one of the most important lessons we as human beings can ever hope to learn and it is an essential one to learn if we ever hope to make it out of the dark ages we call our social existence. For as advanced and evolved as we are, we're still a race of nothing more than toddlers when it comes to the humane treatment of one another regardless of crime or trespass.

I preached a sermon on this subject in 2001, two weeks after the 9/11 disaster that struck New York to a crowd of mixed reactions. I told people that the crimes were terrible and atrocious by most human standards but that our challenge as Christians was to sincerely forgive the ones who had carried them out. Some people agreed with me, others bit their tongue and silently tried to act indifferent to the message.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I was beginning to understand a fundamental bit of information. When I first started toying around with this idea, it was hard for even me to swallow. The idea that horrible actions may go forgiven in whatever comes after this life, was unacceptable to me. It wasn't until I read the book "If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person" by Philip Gulley & James Mulholland, that I truly began to open my eyes to such a concept.

Now, if you're like I was, a die hard conservative Christian who suddenly finds yourself finding some of what you live by in modern Christianity suspect, this book is a must read because it will open doors for you that you never thought were possible to step through before. The authors pretty much destroy the theory of hell and eternal damnation, speculating that eternal punishment would bring no glory to God whatsoever. They ask which would bring more happiness and glory to an all loving God, eternally damning someone or forgiving them of their trespasses?

They use Hitler as an example and argue that people like him are not in hell right now, because it brings absolutely no glory to God. In this day and age, I challenge all of you to consider 9/11 our Hitler because it stirs emotions like nothing in our lifetime ever has. I'm not saying people like that shouldn't be punished, but part of the recovery process *after* punishment, is forgiveness. If you can truly forgive the people who do evil, then friends I can personally guarantee you that you will find yourself able to cope with anything this life has to throw at you.

In the long run, if we're going to judge anything, why not judge judgement? We need to learn to temper our judgment with a little bit of unconditional love and compassion. Evil isn't going to be tamed with more evil after all. Only when evil has absolutely no fuel, no reason to exist, will it die off to such a degree that we will believe paradise has come at last.

Recognize wrong for what it is, punish wrong doing in order to prevent it in the future, but after that learn to forgive wrong doing in your heart, in person to the wrong doers if possible. Our lives as humans seem to be a constant inner battle of good and evil, if we can temper that then we can ultimately come together as a race of beings.

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