A number of years ago, we had a pastor who was fond of telling DOOR participants that their job was to “love the hell out of people.” This statement has stuck with me over the years and has helped me mature as a believer.
For the first three decades of my life, Christianity was mostly about who was right and who was wrong. I knew about Jesus’ warnings against judging too quickly. But I never thought of myself as being judgmental. Rather, I was becoming a more discerning person.
As the years went by it became easy to use “discernment” as a reason to judge. By my late 20’s, anyone who didn’t understand the Christian faith the way I understood it was, from my perspective, not a Christian.
About this time, I went through a major faith crisis that ended with me resigning my position as pastor and beginning my role at DOOR.
One of the first people I met was Steve, the director of the Denver Inner City Parish. To put it simply, Steve fell outside of my understanding of who could be a Christian. In spite of our differences, we soon became friends. Today, 16 years later, Steve is one of the best friends I have ever had.
Steve isn’t all that interested in talking about the wrath of God. He would sooner talk about how God desires to include all of us in God’s family. When other people talk about the need for judgment and punishment, Steve looks to ways to restore and reconcile.
There are many things that Steve and I still disagree on. He is much more liberal than me and I am more conservative than him. But he has helped me to understand that judgment and condemnation are not really my role.