The story goes like this;
The very first church in our modern understanding of church, was planted a very long time ago. It was led by a pastoral team who were also husband and wife. They were especially equipped and had even been married for the specific purpose of the task ahead of them. Their mission goal was to take care of the church and to be an influence for God’s Kingdom in the world around them. The church itself was amazing. It was equipped with every good thing a human needed, and it was a place where God Himself would show up. I can only imagine the worship that went on there. The husband and wife team were free to minister in any way that they chose except one. They were forbidden to judge the people around them. That was the one ministry agenda that God reserved for Himself.
The rest of the story goes something like this; the wife and the husband really wanted to be able to judge like God judged. Who wouldn’t? I mean, to know the difference between good and evil and to be able to evaluate who was and who wasn’t, now that made perfect sense. It seemed like wisdom, after all, how long could Eden be a great church if people who did evil came in and hung out there? God would surely appreciate the help!” And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat”
God was not impressed. Of all the good things that He had given, had wanted to give, for his first pastors to take the one ministry that He reserved for himself was too much. It was so much more than any of the evil that had ever been committed that this one action carried with it the ultimate penalty, the death penalty.
I think more and more that people want to agree with Adam and Eve over God. Adam and Eve had never done evil (that they knew of), but others may have and they wanted to be able to expose it, adjudicate it, and administer justice. That was never God’s plan. Christ didn’t condemn sinners, his harshest rebukes were reserved for those who felt that following God’s law somehow made a person adequate to judge how well others followed it. He railed upon people who placed law above love and compassion. He said to love God, you personally, and he said to love folks. He reached out to sinners, responded to the frailty of their condition, and he cared about their heart.
Now, I get it. I really do! Its like the old Irish drinking toast, “Here’s to our enemies, may the Good Lord turn their hearts, and if He doesn’t turn their hearts may He turn their ankles so we will know them by their limping!” We really do want to know who is in and who is out. It is safer that way. Clear cut rules by which we can map whether a person is really our kind . We want to be certain they have paid just as high a price for their status with God as we do. Sort of like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. The only thing is that following the rules does not change our status with God one little bit. Didn’t Jesus tell a story of people who did all the right things but were left outside of the Kingdom to come because they didn’t know him? There goes that pesky little story thing. Changes everything.
God makes it clear throughout the story: He doesn’t need or want our help in the judgement of others department. That is love. I mean serious love, to save us from the pain of judging our fellow humans. What could be more scary than imperfect people judging other imperfect people according to a perfect God’s law. Gives me the shakes just thinking about it.