Today Nouwen speaks of judgment.
“In judging, we deal with our own fears by putting other people into little boxes, and, in effect, declaring them dead. ‘Oh, I know him,’ we say. ‘I know that type. He’s not worth talking to.’ In doing this, we take the position that new life is no longer possible in our relationships with people. We have already decided who they are. We don’t want to be bothered any more.”
He concludes by saying that labeling people prevents us from seeing them as brother and sisters and from developing community with them.
If I’m honest with myself, I would say that I do sometimes avoid developing new relationships and adding to my “community.” But I don’t think I intentionally rule people out by profiling them and locking them into boxes. I just…don’t like crowds. Really. Sometimes it seems like I am managing as many relationships as I care to manage. That sounds bad. I say to myself, “okay now pastor…this is going on your blog…are you sure you wanna go with that?”
But it’s true for me, so maybe it’s true for you, too. There is only so much time. There are people we adore to whom we want to give lots of our time. There are people we like very much to whom we want to give some time. There are people we need to work with to whom we give a piece of time. And then there are those whom we serve.
After awhile it’s easy to imagine the frustrations of the disciples looking at the crowd of 5000 hungry people and their 2 meager fish and 5 loaves of bread. “Tell them to go home,” they said to Jesus.
“You feed them,” Jesus replied.
And then I think maybe it’s more like it was when I had my second son. I was so afraid, certain I could never love another child to the extent that I loved my first. But when he was born, I found that rather than taking away the love I had for my firstborn, this child, doubled it.
So maybe that’s why Jesus encourages us not to judge. By judging we give ourselves permission to leave someone out. By leaving someone out we deny ourselves the opportunity to experience love multiplied.
I guess if I put anyone in a box, it’s likely a box I build around myself. Hmm.
I guess we could knock out this wall…