Recently I came to a stunning realization about myself – I am a judgemental person.
For someone who’s been in full-time ministry for over 4 years, you can imagine why this would have hit hard. As campus ministers, we’re supposed to be warm, friendly people who accept people as they are, invite them into our homes and love them as Christ would.
And for the most part, I did. But there’s a catch to that. See, while I was really good about doing that with people who didn’t have a relationship with Christ, when it came to other Christians, I’d do the complete opposite. Instead of love, I would judge.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of times I find it easier to show grace to non-Christians. I suppose the logic behind this is because they don’t know Christ, so on some level they don’t always know that what they’re doing or saying is detrimental to their well-being (from a biblical perspective anyway).
But somehow, when it comes to other Christians, I seem to expect everyone to either be at my level or better. And the crazy thing is that whenever I mess up, I’m looking for people to show me grace. Catch the hypocrisy?
I forget that being Christian doesn’t mean being perfect. I forget that everyone has their own journey to walk, and that it sometimes involves making mistakes. And I forget that instead of correction and reprimand, the gospel is primarily a message of the grace, love and redemption from an Almighty God for a people who didn’t deserve it. Namely, me.
Picking At The Specks
The thing about being in campus ministry is that I’ve found that this is something many of us are guilty of at one point or another. And while I realize that there are verses that encourage us to confront others when we feel, after prayer and careful thinking, that they are out of line (Matthew 18:15-17), we must be careful not to go overboard.
What I mean by this is overly focusing on another person or ministry’s weaknesses and failures and negating their strengths, growth and improvement. To define someone by their past and constantly hold them to it not only spits in the face of forgiveness, but sends the message that their future will never be any better than what they’ve done. And let’s face it, that’s not Christian.
This is why even though sometimes there are cases where others around you might have issues that need to be addressed, a good check point is always stop, examine oneself and ask, “What are my own issues that I need to deal with?” (Luke 6:41-42)
As I’ve learned to do this, it’s not only stopped me from saying things that could be quite hurtful, it’s reminded me that I’m no different from those that I have deemed “the other”, and that I’ve got things I need to work on too.
You will be hard pressed to find another place where you find as many people from different countries, cultures, ethnic groups and backgrounds coming together for a common purpose, in this case academics, than on a campus.
But while we seem accepting and even thrilled about these differences on campuses, sometimes we forget that the same thing is true of campus ministries. Each one has their own culture, background and even ethnic make-up, but all matter.
The point I’m getting at is that we as Christians would do well to take on the concept of a university, which in essence means unity IN diversity. With Christ as our uniting factor, this encourages us to take on a different lens when viewing others. In this vein, another’s weakness can be an opportunity to offer support, and similarly another’s strength can be something to admire and learn from instead of being jealous of.
So this week, as you continue about your business on campus, as yourself: Is there a fellow Christian or ministry that I’ve been judging? And how can I love and bless them instead?
“ …so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other… “ – Romans 12:5
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org