Judging a Book by Its Cover [mandy]

There are so many facets to Christianity.

“Judge not lest you be judged”, “By their works you shall know them”, “The same measurement with which you judge will be measured to you”, etc. (Young [me] paraphrase)

You know the verses. I remember growing up and hearing from my parents, “Don’t do that.” I would respond, “But it’s not wrong!?” And my parents would wisely reply, “We know. But to others, it might look wrong.” As I grew older, I began to understand the difference. 

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Today, and most days, I am confronted with statuses and pictures and memes that my ‘friends’ and friends post on facebook. Some are Christians, others aren’t. But sometimes I see the lines blurred: A Christian swears, complains, gossips. And all I have to understand about the circumstance and themselves is the context of social media.

A girl says of her apartment, “We’re very comfortable here.” I assume she is living with her boyfriend. I find myself cringing. As a Christian who loves another Christian, I want to “rejoice with the truth and not delight in evil”. Of course, my assumption may be incorrect. But, well–that’s what an assumption is: an opinion based on the limited facts I have in my hands.

So I tell myself everyday as I work, as I drive, as I interact with the cashier, the bank teller, a coworker–am I avoiding every appearance of evil? Because regardless of whether I am or not, people see.

Now, this is where I could go insane: people-pleasing, people-fearing, not trusting that God ‘s Spirit is still letting Himself be known in me and through me. That’s a fact. But I have a job to do. A duty.

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One thought on “Judging a Book by Its Cover [mandy]

  1. Thank you, Mandy, for this post. I appreciate people who take seriously their usage of social media, who strive to love their brothers and sisters well, and who are conscientious that their lives affect others, directly and indirectly. I sense these things in our post and appreciate it.

    I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church where smoking, dancing, drinking, and anything other than King James was anathema. My life was about as sterile and pure in those regards as could be. One day at church, when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, an older lady pulled me aside and confronted me for smoking cigarettes. She even used the word “duty” when she said to me that she’d seen me smoking in my car and it was her Christian duty to confront me about it. I was quite surprised at this notion, and replaying the events of that day and the geographical location where she had seen me, we deduced together that in reality, I had not been smoking but was chewing on a white Bic pen. I’m telling you, my life was squeaky clean, I was a rule-keeper and a spiritual darling in our church because of the way I lived at that point in my life. Smoking was the last thing of which I would have been suspected, but those three days between her seeing me “smoking” and seeing me at church, were so full of stumbling for her, she could — by her own testimony — barely hold her spiritual life together (I’m not exaggerating). Clearly, the pen is not only mightier than the sword, but also the work of sanctification and grace!

    I relate this story because the line of thinking in your post concerns me. When does it stop? How far does it go? How weak does the weaker brother have to be before I’m simply submitting to his spirit of control, false religion and offense? “Duty” in the Christian life? That doesn’t sound abundant or full of joy, the two things Jesus prays for us.

    But most of all, and in my opinion, the line of thinking I read in your post does not jive with the life of Christ. Jesus couldn’t have cared less about appearances or how He was perceived. On multiple occasions, He deliberately and publicly worked on the Sabbath. You can’t be accused of being a drunk unless you drank with people who were drunks. You can’t be accused of being a glutton unless you ate a lot of food with people who were gluttons. You can’t be accused of being friends with tax collectors and harlots unless you hung out with riff-raff and whores. By His own confession, Jesus sought to please one person: His Father; and I believe God calls all of us to the same kinds of out-of-the-box, false-religion-busting, paradigm-breaking, risk-taking kinds of obedience to which He called Jesus.

    As I’m sure you’ve researched, “avoid all appearances of evil” is better translated, “abstain from every form of evil”. Even that text itself is not concerned with outward action — particularly in its context (rejoice, pray, give thanks, receive prophecy — all heart actions) but inward postures of spirit. I’m all for love-limited liberty, particularly as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 8-10, and believe in making decisions that actively edify my brothers and sisters. What worries me is making decisions about anything based on the perceptions of humans rather than intimacy with Christ.

    Yes, people see, but God sees better.

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