This complicates things for me. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I realize that, wait a second, people are doing this to me! I'm pudgy-married-creepy-aging-writer dad!
What I hate more than anything is being lumped into a group. I hate it when people think because I voted for Obama that I can't be righteous or that because I believe in God I can't also be logical. I hate it when people think that because I'm Mormon I want "the Gays" to burn or that because I'm American I'm a fat, angry, violent imbecil. I hate when people think that because I am a writer/actor that I don't have a job and cry a lot. (I do cry a lot.)
So if I hate it, why do I do it to others? I don't know. And, why, if Christ gave me some great advice on the subject, do I do it anyway?
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
Why, especially if God will judge us for the way we judge others, do we insist on adjudicating each person we meet and throwing stones around willy-nilly?
We have people condemning others for watching R-rated movies, while they cheat a little on their taxes.
We have people chastising others for drinking caffeine while they lie to their spouse.
We have people bashing others who skip church a few times a year while they go further and further into debt.
Here's the thing:
I think we all have things we really truly worship, whether we are aware of it or not. These are things we hate to give up so we make them a part of our justifications, morés and policies without any evidence of them being supported as actual commandments, revelation or Gospel. When we judge others, we're really saying, "I know it's judge-y but He'll understand that no righteous person could (insert problem here) but might (insert your problem here). So, we're solid."
Thoughts like these, while often hilarious, begin to pull us away from the Spirit. I shudder at the number of times I've cast judgement on people in a day. Is that appropriate for someone trying to keep his covenants? Is it acceptable for someone striving to have the Spirit guide him while he teaches his family and practices his Priesthood? I wager that if I eliminated this judgement from my life, the blessings would be plentiful. I'd have a better and more positive outlook on things. Then, why is it so hard to do?
Well, maybe we start feeling a little itchy when we don't see the hand of God the way we want to in our everyday lives. Our world is almost turned upside down when the congregation Democrat turns out to be a great Gospel Doctrine teacher. Or when the lady who loves listening to Glenn Beck is the first person to deliver a meal to the single mother who just lost her job. We choose to ignore things that God or His servants have said that may make us question our systems rather than seek the Lord in prayer to get an answer of truth. No, we'd rather be commanded in all things. Often we take that one step further. We want our personal opinions and societal dividers to be the Lord's too. We tune our Spirits into the world or into our own belief systems instead of Him and equate authority (religious or political or other) with revelation. What happens? We miss what God may actually be trying to tell us. We miss our real answers.
It's a modern-day Golden Calf.
In our spiritual panic and pride, we throw our personal gold and silver in a pot and start smelting a new god. We make it resemble the one we go to church to worship but he's actually a monster we create and control and we're Dr. Frankenstein. A monster who believes what we do, votes the way we do, loves the teams we do, blesses the rich and punishes the poor, Gays and Mexicans. This monster god is one who doesn't mind when we cut someone off on the highway or teach our children to complain to the refs, who let's us entertain our unclean thoughts as long as they don't hurt anyone. But ... deep down we know a Prophet always comes back down the mountain to remind us of the difference between our god and the True and Living God of Heaven. When that happens, are we willing to let our god go?
"We must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man. This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are hear to live according to his law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
I know I've got some work to do.
This post was originally published March 29, 2012.
Born in Salt Lake City, Brett Merritt lived in twelve different homes and four different states by the time he was nineteen. He served his church mission in Alabama and is currently an average primary teacher. Brett has a B.S. in English and is a Content Editorial Director by day. A huge supporter of the performing arts, he spends his spare time writing, acting, improvising, and watching a lot of films. He lives in Provo, Utah where his brilliant wife and kids patiently watch as he tries to be a better Modern Mormon Man. Twitter: @brettcmerritt.
Image credit: James Cridland (used with permission).