Soundbite Theology: A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Judge-not-11Sermon audio here.

Christians are often portrayed as hateful, narrow-minded people. If you affirm the Creator’s design for the lifetime union between one man and one woman for marriage, you’re a bigot. If you believe God’s Word when it says “male and female He created them,” you’re trampling on the civil rights of those who disagree.

Even science has become politically incorrect. Biology’s too black and white, too discriminatory. So when it comes to defining marriage and gender, we ignore biology. Feelings trump both Scripture and science. The pursuit of happiness is seen as the most fundamental god-given right, even when the pursuit of that “happiness” stands in clear contradiction to what God and biology both say.

You might think the enemies of the Church would stay away from the Bible. And while they generally do, that doesn’t stop them from constructing an entire religion out of a 2-word soundbite from today’s Holy Gospel: “Judge not.” It’s brilliant. As long as you stick with soundbite theology, you can do anything you want except tell someone they’re wrong. That’s what bigots do. That’s hate speech. Judge not!

It’s funny, when you isolate these two words into a convenient soundbite you turn the meaning of this text inside-out. If you listen beyond the soundbite, you’ll hear Jesus affirm the importance of judgment in this very text. Jesus describes us as “the blind leading the blind,” hypocrites who need to examine ourselves and remove the log from our own eye before we help our neighbor with their speck.

“Judge not” doesn’t mean live and let live. It doesn’t mean I can do whatever I want and you’d better not say I’m wrong. You can’t remove logs and specks without recognizing guilt.

Like all of Satan’s lies, soundbite theology is attractive and popular. It’s also complete nonsense. We judge things all the time. Whenever you say something is good, you’re making a judgment. You’ve examined it and are declaring it righteous. People who say “judge not” are actually desperate for your judgment, but the verdict had better be “innocent.”

The problem with God’s Law is it doesn’t give us the verdict we want. This talk about logs and specks goes directly against the notion that we’re good people. Jesus comes right out and describes us as “the blind leading the blind.”

These aren’t very nice words—unless they’re true. It wouldn’t be nice for the doctor to lie to you and tell you you needed surgery if you were fine. It wouldn’t be nice for Jesus to lie to you and tell you you were a sinner if you were a good person.

But if you are, in fact, going blind, it’s not unloving for the doctor to tell you you need surgery. It’s not unloving for Jesus to call you to repentance since you are, in fact, a sinner. What would be unloving would be for Jesus to tell blind sinners they were good people. That would be like the doctor lying to the sick person and telling them they have a clean bill of health.

Painful though it is, the call to repentance is an act of mercy. Jesus calls you to repentance because He loves you. How can He make you well if you think you’re fine and refuse His medicine?

The world would have you believe you’re just fine and anything that makes you happy must be good for you. Anyone who says otherwise is a bigot, even if it’s God, since we obviously know best.

But let’s think about this. The definition of bigotry is “having an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions,” the key word here being opinion. Nobody’s going to call you a bigot for believing the earth is round, because that’s a fact.

This is where we, as Christians, can get into trouble. What God says is not opinion. Holy Scripture is even more sure and certain than the fact that the world’s round. Many have embraced the LGBTQ agenda because they do not regard God’s Word as fact. They say the bible was written by bigoted people who lived in bigoted cultures.

Anyone who says that doesn’t know their history. Homosexuality was widely practiced and accepted by the Romans during the time of Christ. God’s Word has always been counter-cultural. Jesus wasn’t crucified because of His popularity.

You can deny the truth of God’s Word. Many do. But just like the crazy person who can’t change the shape of the world by claiming it’s flat, accusing Scripture of lying doesn’t make it false. God defines reality, not us. He made the world round. He made us male and female. He defines marriage by saying, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. He calls you, a sinner, to repentance.

But as long as you insist you’re a good person, the log in your eye will continue to blind you. Jesus constantly maintains this point, that you are not a good person. You’ve listened to soundbite theology rather than the voice of Christ. God’s Word is the only light for your path, but you’ve preferred to live in the darkness of your own judgment instead.

It goes without saying that the blind need guidance. You need someone to lead you, to help you avoid danger and keep you safe. Blind people can’t be their own guides.

Don’t rely on your own judgment; trust rather in the judgment of the Christ. His Word alone is trustworthy. His Word is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

We need to be taught and corrected. We need to be trained in righteousness. We need a great deal of judgment and discretion. Rely on God’s Word and not the judgment of your sinful heart to guide and correct you.

Judgment is only bad when it’s based on our own standards. When it’s based on God’s Word, it is a blessing. Not only is sin contrary to God’s will and can result in damnation, true peace and joy can’t be found when you’re living contrary to God’s Word. Guilt will burden you and your conscience will not be clear.

God’s judgment is trustworthy. He declares the guilty innocent and gives sight to the blind. He washes the dirty, feeds the hungry, and opens the ears of the deaf. The One who spoke those words of loving judgment in today’s Holy Gospel demonstrated His love for you by taking your place under the wrath of God and dying. He shows mercy to us who would rather go around nitpicking at our neighbors’ specks while remaining blind to our own log.

When God judges you, all He can see is Christ. He sees His own beloved child; one who spoke words that were both terrible and wonderful; one who stubbornly held to God’s will even when it wasn’t popular and cost Him His life; one who always put your needs before His own. Be imitators of God, as beloved children. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Soli Deo Gloria

+Rev. Eric Andersen
St. Luke 6:36–42
Zion, Summit
Immanuel, Hodgkins
Around the Word Bible Studies



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