Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” vs. 5-6Psalm 1
When the Pharisees that Jesus encountered made distinctions between the sinners and the righteous, and encouraged strict separation, they weren’t just making stuff up. Those ideas had been around for a long time and were even embedded in their holy scriptures. So biblical literalists of every age can find a multitude of verses that reflect the natural human tendency to judge and condemn those who do not live according to certain religious, moral, or ethical standards. In fact those who stand on high holy ground even seem to enjoy looking down on sinners and predicting their sad endings. But what’s really interesting is that Jesus didn’t do that; he enjoyed the fellowship of sinners and actually preferred their company–he chose some of them to be his closest disciples. He was aware of what folks like this psalmist had written, and he had nothing against living decent and fruitful lives, but he believed that all people were loved and redeemed by God and could walk in the way of righteousness. So that’s what he preached and practiced! So what shall we do with the condemning passages we find scattered through scripture? Some choose to ignore them, but that’s risky business! It’s far better to use them to explore our own tendencies to separate and judge, and, in so-doing, glimpse anew the radical nature of Christ’s grace.
Thought for the Day: When is it okay to disagree with scripture?