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The title of chapter 18 Jon Walker‘s  Costly Grace attention: “Becoming Like Jesus in Our Acceptance of Non-Believers.” Walker’s book is a twenty-first century look of Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship. I have wondered over the years how many non-Christian friends, the typical evangelical Christians knows.  Bonhoeffer out it this way:

“How easy it would have been for the disciples to adopt a superior attitude, to pass unqualified condemnation on the rest of the world, and to persuade themselves that this was the will of God!”

The point of this chapter is to understand that Jesus wants his followers to see other people through the eyes of God rather than judging their appearance or performance.  Since Christians are new creations in Christ, they are not to harshly judge their neighbors.  It also true that the righteousness of Jesus is in his followers.  However, that should never be used as a measurement and standard on those who do not know Christ.   Walker wrote:

With this in mind, we have no justification for maintaining a superior, judgmental, holier-than-thou view over anyone.  There but for the grace of God I go.  It is not our place to tell others how they ought to live; rather, our role is to take them to Jesus and he can tell them how to find life, a life extraordinary…Because we belong to Jesus, we can no longer judge others independent of Jesus.  We must see them through the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus made this clear when he told the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying at the temple in Luke 18:10-14.  Christians are not to possess the superior, I’m better than you, attitude of the proud Pharisee who looked down upon the humble tax-collector.  The approach of Christians to see others in need of the love of Jesus.  It also causes them to seek more of the fruit of the Spirit in their own lives so that their outlook is more other-centered rather than self-centered.  No doubt, we will see the faults of others.  Yet, according to Bonhoeffer:

“I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love…”

This love will actually be used by the Lord to bring conviction of sin in their lives.  In other words, as we love, Christ will love as well; and the love of Jesus will show the sinner the true horror of his or her sin.  Christians must never assume the place of God who judges the sins of others.  When Christians do this, then they will get caught up in judging their own lives with the number of good deeds verses bad deeds.  This leads to a false understanding of standing righteous before a holy God. Walker wrote:

Our behavior exposes our beliefs and, if you believe in a God who demands a balance sheet, then you’ll be a zealot to keep one.  At the same time, if you believe in a God who willingly lowers his standards of holiness and righteousness to meet your human imperfections, then you’ll continue to live as if free grace means cheap grace.  “Judging others makes us blind,” says Bonhoeffer, “whereas love is illuminating.  By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

Thus, others will simply be seen as depersonalized.

An example of Fallen Thinking:

Why should I have to pay the unfair price so that others go free?

An example of Kingdom Thinking:

How can I minister to the needs of others rather than trying to manipulate their behavior?

As the love and life of Jesus flows through us, we will be far less prone to judge others.  We see others as Jesus sees them.


November 2010


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