WE LIVE in a judgmental world – all the more apparent in a season of exam results, Brexit uncertainty, and rising social tensions. We judge – and are judged – on our attainments, the kind of house we own or don't own, and our occupation e.g. "just a stay-at-home mum". Of course, we need to make good discernments about character and trust in our dealings, but it is this very human and rather proud attitude of being judgmental that strains relationships.
As Christians, we're called to be different. That is easy to say, and more difficult to deliver, but Jesus (who said "I am the Way...") both shows us the way and empowers us for His way of being generous-spirited to others.
Encountering people with very different values and lifestyles, and often complicated life situations, always puts us on the spot, but as Christians who know God's love, we are uniquely equipped to love others. This is worked out every weekend on the streets of Hereford by circulating street pastors and also the Night Shift which keeps the foyer of the Baptist Church open for people who need a refuge and a chat – and perhaps some footwear or a blanket.
'Taffy' was a homeless and argumentative man, living in a tent, with some unhelpful substance dependencies and little sense of routine that lost him every job he tried. His Night Shift friends got to know him, prayed for him and were there for him every time he came in with another tale of woe. Then he disappeared – to be seen months later outside Morrisons on his bike having held down a job at the chicken factory and been paying his rent on time.
God's ways are higher than our ways – and as James teaches us, "Mercy – unconditional love – triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). Maybe – just maybe – finding some people who were there for him and didn't judge him, was the little lift 'Taffy' needed to get his life straight, on the back of the prayers of those that got to know him.