Yesterday, Mark Driscoll made a judgment call about the faith of President Obama. He tweeted “Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”
The problem with this is that Driscoll not only used his platform to cast such a stone, but he thought it wise to judge the faith of a person he does not know. There is always a danger in attempting to judge whether or not a person is a Christian. One’s relationship with God is deeply complex, and should not receive the kind of speculation it often does.
With this in mind, there is one major disadvantage to this whole scenario. That being Twitter itself. Every tweet only allows the user 140 characters to say anything. Being that Driscoll gave no reason for tweeting what he did; it gives way to much speculation.
If we are not careful, this speculation can lead to us making our own judgment of Driscoll, and tweeting things back that may even be more judgmental than what he wrote. No matter what we think of what Driscoll tweeted it is not our place to return judgment for judgment.
We cannot fool ourselves into believing that we now have a right to judge him. This will only lead to greater division. What we can do is take this opportunity to remember that we all judge others at different times. With this in mind, it may be helpful to think about judgment, and why we all seem to hate it so much.
All judgment is made from certain perspectives, varying preconceptions and differing viewpoints. Judgment is always biased. To ignore this reality is arrogant, and to ignore this reality when commenting on another person’s faith is dangerous.
Making a judgment on another person’s faith can easily communicate that the one making the judgment knows exactly what a Christian is and what a Christian is not. It is as though they have a grid that establishes the proper parameters of Christianity itself.
Which raises some questions: Is there more than one grid? If so, who determines what that grid is? Which grid should we use when determining the faith and beliefs of another person? Who are the ones that get to use it? Does the grid ever change?
Whenever we judge the faith of others we fail to see that Christianity is not a faith that demands we agree on every social issue, hold to the same theology or agree on every aspect of biblical interpretation. This is what makes the Christian faith so vibrant.
We have the joy of journeying alongside those who think differently – learning from them and sharing with them. Our job is not to judge, but to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. We are to love others without any strings attached. Judgment does not lead to this; instead it moves us further from the heart of Jesus.
I have never seen a statement of judgment led to greater unity; in fact the opposite is true, it always leads to division. And this is true whether we make a judgment about the faith of President Obama or the attitude and words of Mark Driscoll. Judgment, in the end, can actually work against the prayer of Jesus when he prayed in John 17 that his people would be one even as he and his father are one.
And now, a word to Mark Driscoll.
Mark, you have been given an immense, influential platform. I call you today, as a brother and fellow pastor, to use that platform wisely – not forgetting that to whom much is given, much is required. No one expects you to be perfect – least of all me, who knows through personal experience what imperfection is all about.
With this in mind, your tweet about the President has caused division and anger among our fellow brothers and sisters. In the past, you have shown that you have the humility to apologize when you have misspoken or said the wrong thing at the wrong time. For what it’s worth, if I can make a judgment of my own, this is one of those times, and it calls for an apology.
Brother, my hope for you is the same for myself; that your words would only serve to move those who listen toward the mind and heart of Jesus. May we both strive toward that end, so that, when all is said and done, we will see at last God’s kingdom come, and His will be done, on this earth as it is in heaven.