Often Religion is associated with Judgmentalism.
Judgment is associated with control, condemnation, and power.
It is terrifying and mean, or a mechanism of retribution.
Judgment is found A LOT in the Bible.
But the meaning of “judgment” in the Christian faith movement is wildly different from popular uses of the word.
Here are 5 things to know about JUDGMENT:
5. Weird Word and Double Meaning:
Judgment = Justice!
The ancient Hebrew word for Judgment is MISHPAT…
All of the scriptures that Jesus was quoting, and the old scrolls that the early Christians were reading [the prophets, the Psalms, the five scrolls of Torah] all of them described the Judgment of God with the word “MISHPAT.”
The word ALSO means, “JUSTICE.”
So in the Judeo-Christian worldview, Justice and Judgment are the same thing.
This is distilled in the prayer Jesus taught: “... Your Will be done…”
MISHPAT is the will of God happening,
and it is experienced as both Justice and Judgment.
It always incorporates some sort of liberation, provision, alleviation, healing, restitution, or leveling.
4. This is a CRISIS!!!
Judgment = Transformation
Yes, MISHPAT [in ancient Hebrew] is translated by the Christian writers [in old Greek] as KRISIS…
This is where our original understanding of a massively-important change-everything-event comes from: the moment when the deepest decisions are made.
A medical “crisis” is when the body either survives or succumbs.
A family “crisis” is when a family endures the moment that uncovers who they truly are together.
An existential “crisis” is when your truest identity is dredged out of the mire of confusion and attacks.
The “crisis” of Creation is when God’s Will happens: justice+judgment+revelation+deciding-to-join-up!
Thus “Judgment Day” in the Christian understanding is the same as "Justice Day": the moment when all things are made right, suffering ends, and evil ceases forever.
3. WHICH JUDGMENT??!
Judgment is Sacred
There are two Judgments.
A human judgment/justice.
And God’s sacred judgment/justice.
Here’s how to tell the difference:
Human judgment/justice is generally about balancing out pain.
This person hurt, so the other needs to hurt about equally.
That horrible thing happened over there, so another horrible thing needs to happen over here.
Valuation is necessary for human judgment/justice, and there is language of guilt and retribution.
Necessary for this logical exercise is this underlying myth that retribution brings healing.
God’s sacred judgment/justice is about Compassion. This is another wild concept that is mostly understood in the gut and womb-area of the body. It is the place where a longing-of-love happens, where debts are erased, and the desire for retribution is replaced with a hope for restoration. [The ancient Hebrew word for “compassion” is RACHAM which is related to the womb].
God is not worried about balance, God is worried about making all broken things anew. God’s judgment/justice always looks like an utter revamping.
2. JUDGMENT TRANSFORMS THE JUDGE!
The Judge is Tested Severely
Here it gets scary!
On various occasions Jesus’ students ask to have His same power: the ablility to Judge.
Jesus says, “sure”. . . but it will require quite the tribulation!
To become the Judge is to go through the massive “trial” of failure, loss, mortality, and woundedness. All of Jesus’ students go through what appears to be a complete loss of their identity to assume a role in God’s justice.
To participate in God’s judgment/justice is to be fully stripped of the human authority to prescribe retribution.
What are we left with if we are no longer respected by society’s established structures of authority?
We’re only left with a connection to God’s Will.
The story of Peter’s failure is the most poignant illumination of this terrifying reality: Peter begs Jesus to give him the ability to Judge, Jesus tells him he will fail at the most basic of tests, Peter does fail, Peter returns post-failure with a full commitment to an authority he doesn’t own (see Luke 22). Peter becomes the archetypal foundation of the Christian faith movement.
1. JUDGMENT REQUIRES HOPE
Hope is the Doorway to Justice
Okay, so this is the part that has been most abused in the last 2,000 years.
Abusive religious leaders have used the judgment-justice connection to avoid God’s will!
It’s gross, but this is how it has worked:
the message is
“God will fix things for you,
maybe in death,
but not yet,
so we don’t need to help now!”
There is a lot here, but [as a licensed “religious leader”] let me say this:
Only one person in the Bible talks about “Hell” and that is Jesus–and in all but one instance He is talking directly to religious leaders who have denied judgment/justice to afflicted people!! [The only other instance is to the rich fellow who ignored the dying beggar at his doorstep]
Denying judgment/justice to the hurting and oppressed is an awful thing.
The truth, however, is: “God HAS fixed things, and that is the reality of eternity, and ignoring that is extremely tragic for those with earthly power.”
Power, if we ever have it, must be used in the service of God’s judgment/justice.
Okay, The first response to this is terror!
Do I have power? Have I messed up?
The mature and beautiful response to this is HOPE.
Hope is the deep gift we receive that lets us truly participate in God’s judgment/justice.
Hope is a connection to eternity that helps us glimpse how the now becomes the forever.
Though it is susceptible to evil manipulation, Hope–at its core–is the ability to see through nasty reality into the beautiful forever.
Hope requires a handful of things: an understanding that God loves all of Creation, an experience of true love, and a gift of grace (which helps make the tension of reality-vs-eternity digestible!)
One happens in your head: God loves you and everything. That needs to be understood.
One happens in your heart: You are truly loved. That needs to be felt.
One happens in your gut: You are given undeserved grace–and that is a contagious gift that needs to be passed on.