Anyone who has been driving around the Westside of town has probably noticed the billboards for a new Christian place of worship calling itself the “blended church.” These billboards advertise an atmosphere that features “no judging.” I have also seen a sign several times on the Westside that offers “no rules, no judging, just Jesus!” These slogans sound good, but do they hold up?
On one level, I get the signs. It is certainly true that some people, when speaking about what is right and wrong have done so in extremely offensive and judgmental ways. These people have apparently never read Jesus’ exhortation to “judge not lest we be judged.”
However, we have to match that quote from Jesus with Saint Paul’s exhortation to preach the Truth with Love. Would St. Paul have encouraged us to preach the Truth with Love if preaching the Truth with anger were not a temptation? St. Paul does acknowledge, then, that it is a challenge to keep Love and talking about Truth together, which is why we see some people failing in this regard, and settling for the easy route of talking about right and wrong AND judging at the same time.
All this being said, we must also admit that St. Paul didn’t say, “Don’t preach the Truth because it is hard to do it with Love. Since it is hard to do it well, don’t try in the first place.” Talking about right and wrong is a command from the Scriptures, and those who try, through their words and their actions, know this command is true precisely because they experience it as difficult and challenging and hard; the kind of hard that lets us know that at the end of the day it is what we ought to be doing.
What people really want today, even if they don’t say it themselves, is to hear someone talk about “right and wrong.” When I walk around town and talk with colleagues and students at Ritter and meet people in all the various ways that priests encounter people I see something in the eyes of a lot of people that shows me that they are hungry for the Truth. They want someone to talk to them about the Truth with love. If we are embarrassed about our faith, or if we think it is something that should really be shed so that we can achieve unity, we have become people completely of this world. May God grant us the courage to preach the Truth with Love no matter the cost.