“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.
“It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself. And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment. // John 5:24-27, The Message
Jesus doesn’t care about what we think about who is in and who is out.
Jesus doesn’t care that we don’t like “those” people, whomever those people are.
Jesus cares about bringing in those who have been condemned as outsiders and bringing them into community.
It’s interesting isn’t it that for Jesus the one who is outside the circle of friends is the one who is experiencing the “world of the dead”?
I’m struck by the statement of Jesus, where he says that it is up to him to carry out matters of judgment. If it’s up to him, do you know who it’s not up to? You or me.
That is so freeing.
I have spent a lot of years trying to figure out how to pass judgment on others. When I was younger, it was easy. You see, in our youth we have everything figured out and we know that we are pretty much perfect. As you age and mature you become aware of the reality that you don’t have much, if anything, figured out. You realize that your Mimi was right when she said, “But by the grace of God go I.”
So, yeah. Jesus being the arbiter of judgment is a way better system than a pastor or anyone else being an arbiter of judgment.
Now, to be clear I think what he’s talking about here is the judging of who belongs on the outside to experience the “world of the dead.” That’s not my call. That’s not your call.
As I let this passage sit in me, I think we have the twin responsibilities of being sure that we are aligned with Jesus and also to welcome outsiders inside.
Could you imagine the way the world would look different if those of us who bear the name, “Christian,” understood ourselves as greeters not gatekeepers?
My goodness! We might take another step toward being known by our love!