In yesterday's reading from the Epistle of James, I heard a sentence for the first time. Oh, I've probably heard it before, but I was ready, really open, to hearing it as if for the first time. Say that I heard this phrase with my heart.
"Mercy triumphs over judgment," James writes to Christians.
Today, what we need is a Christianity not of judgment--so many churches preach God's judgment on this or that sin, on this or that group, on this or that theology--but a Christianity of mercy.
Jesus, in the words of Eugene Peterson, is God with us in the here and now and is the embodiment of the mercy of God. Those who are vulnerable, weak, poor, on the edges of society and not at the center receive mercy from the Lord, never judgment.
The only people Jesus judges, and rightly, are the know-it-alls, the got-it-all-figured outs, the I'm-better-than-you-ares: the Pharisees of then; the Pharisees of now.
One place for this new Christianity of mercy to be expressed is in our own churches and toward our own members, some of whom are different from us for a lot of reasons.
Take those in our churches, for instance, who are suffering from Asperger's Syndrome.
Yesterday afternoon, Penny and I saw Adam, an excellent new film showing at the Moxie. It's about a young electronics engineer, Adam, played by Hugh Dancy, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
As one character in the film explains it, Asperger's is on the "autism spectrum." There's nothing dangerous or scary about it or the people diagnosed with it.
"Aspys," as Adam describes fellow sufferers, are often highly intelligent, but they have difficulty communicating with others and understanding what people are communicating to them. They're prone to talk endlessly on topics of interest to them. As a consequence, they're awkward in social settings, including the workplace, school, in their communities of faith.
When I meet a person who's very different from me, I can judge that person, even think that person a "freak," a word that Adam applies to himself as the way "neurologically typicals" see him.
Or I can practice the Christianity of mercy. I can get to know that person, come to understand who he or she is, and accept that person as a fellow child of God, deserving all my love, but none of my judgment.
Judgmentalism, now that's a truly scary syndrome, and there's nothing Christian about it.