Thursday, November 29, 2012

With the Cross of Jesus, Marching on Before

In situations of conflict Christians often find themselves accomplices in war, rather than agents of peace. We find it difficult to distance ourselves from our selves and our own culture and so we echo its reigning opinions and mimic its practices. As we keep the vision of God's future alive, we need to reach out across the firing lines and join hands with our brothers and sisters on the other side. We need to let them pull us out of the enclosure of our own culture and its own peculiar set of prejudices so that we can read afresh the “one Word of God.” In this way we might become once again the salt to the world ridden by strife.  -Volf, Miroslav (2010-03-01). Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (p. 54). Abingdon Press. 
Volf's book is a sometimes meandering read, but it's given me occasion to think about what the scriptures teach Christians about priority.  In particular, it is helping me to consider how we as Western Churches respond to events in the East.  I will not engage in political commentary, but there is an issue of Christian faith which requires consideration.

After failing to found a cohesive community at Athens with his eloquent preaching, the Apostle Paul moved on to Corinth determined to preach only one thing:  "Jesus Christ, and him crucified."  In the simple statement we see that the cross is the foundation of the Christian community (Volf, p. 47).  It defines who belongs to the community, and the basis for interpersonal relationships within the community.

The community requires primary allegiance from members.  "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple," Jesus said (Luke 14:26).  All other relationships are formed at the behest of the Cross.  We honor our father and mother because it is the way of the cross.  We love our wife and our earthly family because the cross leads us to love.  All of our relationships are restored and prioritized by the cross.  "Love one another," the cross calls to us, and so we love.

And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, 
"Behold My mother and My brothers!"

The cross establishes our relationships with the secular world as well.  We are told to live quiet lives, to submit to the governing authorities, and to honor the King.  In the modern context, this means that we should be good citizens, but we are reminded that our Kingdom is not of this world.  Our citizenship bows to and serves the cross.  There is only one Church, which spans all cultures, through the suffering of Christ on the cross (Volf, p. 51).

Nowhere is this more relevant than the relationship between Churches in cultures that are in conflict.  When there is a clash of cultures or nations, Christians must first look across the conflict and find those members of our Church that are on the other side.  The first allegiance is always to the cross, and to our community founded upon it.  Opposing the "enemy" must be secondary to embracing our brethren.

In the context of the Arab world, western Churches must realize that they have communities of Christian brothers and sisters in many nations of the region.  While we might be quick to support Christians in the pro-western countries, Christians living in "pariah states" and the "axis of evil" are no less deserving of our love and faithfulness, and of our embrace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Papal Visit to Lebanon

Lebanon has been abuzz for weeks now in anticipation of the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. The highways have been decorated with billboards and banners in the Maronite areas, which are in Northern and Eastern Beirut. Maronites are in full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and are about 30% of the population of Lebanon.

Beirut is a heavily segregated city, and the Maronites and Muslims live apart from one another, avoiding daily contact for the most part. The neighborhoods in our area, Msaytbeh and Burj Abu Haidar are Muslim, so there's been no activity or preparation for his visit here. “You can tell when you're leaving a Maronite area,” I told a group of visitors this week, “because you'll cross a street and the Papal banners will disappear.”

Since we live only a few blocks from the path of the motorcade, we thought it would be fun to stroll over and catch a glimpse of the Pope's car as he came through. All the major highways were closed for the whole afternoon, and side roads were blocked, so most people in Beirut stayed home or left work early.

There were no crowds along the highway, even though it is a heavily populated area. There were no banners or streamers, nor cheering throngs. A few groups of curious onlookers were kept back from the highway by armed soldiers stationed all along the route.

Salim Salaam Avenue is usually packed with traffic
Cars normally park on the sidewalks.

“Seeing the roads so empty was more unusual than seeing so many guards,” Kim commented. “That doesn't surprise me any more because we see tanks and guards all the time.” The highway is normally crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and people even park on the sidewalks because it is so crowded. “I was also curious to see how the Muslims would react to the Pope,” she said. “They were really just curious like me. They were more interested in the helicopters, guns, and soldiers closing the roads.” Even the parked cars were all removed, because any one of them could be a danger.

Security was very heavy for the motorcade, as might be expected. As helicopter gunships circled overhead, his armored Limo was escorted by dozens of police vehicles, including about six jeeps that had heavy machine guns mounted on the roof. A lead car came ahead of the whole motorcade by about two kilometers, and Kim and I joked about how the Pope should really be in that car, with a double in the official car bearing his flag.

The Pope is the guy in the back, we think!

Olivia was excited by the whole event. “There were a lot of cars, and I got to see the Pope's head!” she exclaimed afterward. John had been hoping to see more than a Limo and a glimpse of the Pope, but was interested in all of the armed vehicles in the motorcade. He's more excited about giving a shout out to all his friends in Guntersville. After the motorcade passed, most of the onlookers remained, watching the highway to see when the Army would pull out.

The airport is in the southern part of the city, and the Papal motorcade traveled through many Muslim neighborhoods like ours before reaching the Christian areas to the north, where his real welcome will begin. He'll be received at the Vatican Embassy in Harissa. We visited that area just the other day and saw the “Lady of Lebanon” shrine which he will visit. His theme for the visit is “I give you my peace” and hopefully his visit will encourage people in Lebanon toward peace.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Other Side of Nowhere

We took our second overnight camping trip to the mountains east of Faqra.  Only the high peaks (9,000-10,000 feet) have names, but the locals call the area the Sinein mountains (two teeth).  The area where we camped was very isolated, and about 7,000 feet.

Nowhere is just slightly to the left.

After we passed the last ski resort on the main highway, we drove about 15 more minutes along the highway.  When I say remote -there is nothing.  Not a single building or sign of civilization other than the highway on which you are driving.  There are only rolling mountaintops and valleys, and the landscape is both stark and beautiful.  It is all rocky, both large formations of rocks protruding from the soil, and a layer of broken rock that covers every slope.  There are no trees, only several variaties of very thorny bushes, mostly in the low areas.

I didn't have to bribe them either!

The ecology is based on the snow melts.  Starting in late fall, the whole area is covered in a snow cap that persists all winter without melting.  Even into the summer, snow remains in crevices on the slopes (I saw some in late July on a trip through the area further to the south).  The moisture allows the otherwise desert area to support enough grazing to be worthwhile to  Bedouin shepherds as well as water holes that still have water in September.  However, it has very much a desert feel because there is no rain during the dry season after the snow melts.

There's very little wild animal life to be seen.  On our first trip we saw a single beetle.  This time the children discovered a lizard under a rock, and some frogs in the bottom of a watering hole that was empty but still had moist soil in the bottom.  We also spotted some bats flying at dusk.  Perhaps this is a result of the harsh extremes -snow covering the ground perhaps 8-9 months of the year, and then a dry desert once it melts.

There are Bedouin tribes that move about the mountaintops.  There was a large camp on the highway (5-6 tents) that was not there a few weeks ago.  They keep honey bees near the watering holes, with sometimes 40-50 stands in a spot.  They also have herds of sheep that roam around the mountainsides, and each shepherd has a donkey and at least one herding dog.

"Can we have sheep Dad?"

We turned off the highway onto a rough dirt road and drove perhaps ten minutes through several unoccupied Bedouin camp areas.  We found one on our first trip that looked promising and it turned out to be an excellent campsite.  It sat in a flat area near an empty watering hole and had a great view of the surrounding valley.  There were a couple of rock formations we could climb, and a small trail that went further up into the mountains.  We followed the trail up to where a concrete bunker had been built on the top, with a flag marking the peak.  I always stay far away from abandoned buildings because during the wars there was a lot of mining, and there could be abandoned munitions.  We stay in areas that the goat herds and four-wheelers have already covered.

Being away from everything is my favorite part, climbing the hills and seeing more and more nothing.  It may not sound that exciting, but for a country boy living in urban sprawl, it was so relaxing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thank You, American Workers

Labor Day is a day when we typically just think about a good barbecue.  

This really does merit a holiday.
Trust me, I haven't had them lately.

If we're going to find meaning in the day beyond a rack of ribs, however, then it might be this:  

We live in a society that was built with many hands -some of them sewed socks, some welded bridges, while some others changed diapers.  Some of them taught me to read, while others forced me to learn mathematics against my will -but to my great benefit.  Somewhere along the line, some of them taught me to love writing, and to love sharing the Gospel of Jesus.

I have driven on roads built by the hard labor of workers both native and immigrant.  I have done some great fishing, swimming, and canoeing in a lake built by the sweat of our grandfathers.  Many people have invested in my life.

This canoeing fun would not be possible if not for:

This incredible investment of labor.

To all of you who have lent a hand in the building of a nation that we all enjoy, and that I treasure:  

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Heretics Hall of Shame II

Event organizer Rev. William J. Collier and  keynote speaker Rev. Mel Lewis.

Newest inductees into the Hall of Shame

I had to lead with the photo, it was just too appropriate.  These two yokels from Lamar County, Alabama are the driving force behind this monstrosity:

"We don't have the facilities to accommodate other people. We haven't got any invitations to black, Muslim events. Of course we are not invited to Jewish events and stuff," Collier said.

This is what he means by "facilities to accommodate other people"

You can't make stuff like this up.  It boils my blood to think that they are claiming and desecrating the name of my Lord Jesus.  Speaking of which, guess who will not be invited:

That's Right, I'm not a White Christian!

They'd better hope that the Lion of Judah doesn't show up to their meeting.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Heretics Hall of Shame

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 

I can tell you from personal experience that it's very, very difficult to get your congregation excited about feeding the poor.  It's almost impossible to get them convicted about the sin of gluttony.  If you want people to volunteer for the BBQ at the Fire Department, that's like shooting fish in a barrel, even the Deacon's wives will be there.  Looking for volunteers to walk through a drug-infested neighborhood and invite people to a community Church service?  That boils it down to the few.

So, it should come as no surprise that many so-called preachers of the Gospel take the easy road out.  Instead of inspiring Christians with the message of Jesus Christ, they preach fear and hatred.  Getting people angry at homosexuals, illegal immigrants, or some other supposedly evil, society-destroying force is simple.  You yell, wave around the Bible a bit (don't open it too much), froth at the mouth, and tell people that God approves your message.  They'll lap it up like a dog returns to lap up his own vomit.  

The last few weeks have brought to light some of the worst cases of this in recent memory.  Several Baptist pastors have made national news with comments that are so shocking they simply defy belief.  It would be easy to dismiss them as obscure lunatics, but can we afford that luxury?

No, we cannot, because the stakes are too high, their ideas are too evil, and the response is too mute.  I will not sit silently while evil men pretend to preach the Gospel and put the name of my Lord Jesus on their hatred and bigotry.  Jesus publicly mocked and ridiculed such evil men, for it is what they deserve.  So, I present for your scorn:

The Heretics Hall of Shame
Inductee 1

Curtis Knapp

New Hope Baptist Church

Seneca, Kansas

Knapp called for the death of gays in a sermon.  "Oh, so you're saying we should go out and start killing them? No, I'm saying the government should. They won't, but they should."

Fear not, preacher.  Your morally corrupt government may not be willing to kill all those homos but there's one that had the moral purity to do it.  Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis arrested tens of thousands of homosexuals and about ten thousand died in the death camps.  What we need are some good old-fashioned family values like those.  Of course, there was a man like you there to lend God's blessing on the horrific murders:

Reichsbishop Ludwig Müller believed strongly in purifying his country.

The Heretics Hall of Shame
Inductee 2

Charles L. Worley
 Providence Road Baptist Church
Maiden, N.C.
"Build a great, big, large fence -- 150 or 100 mile long -- put all the lesbians in there," Worley said. "Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out...and you know what, in a few years, they'll die out..."
Rev. Worley's vision becomes reality.

You're late to the game, Rev. Worley. Smarter men than you made big fences. Now admittedly they made them mostly for the Jews, but they were also good for queers, retards, negroes, and other undesirables. They even managed to score a few pinko-commie liberal Christians, which should just set your holy heart aglow.

Raising their hands in worship
...but to the fascist god of national socialism.

There's one more group to mention, and that's the leaders of the Churches.  Do they have no Elders capable of discerning false doctrine?  I mean, I'm not asking for a dissertation on the nuances of the Holy Trinity.  This is murder and death camps.  That's Deacon 101 stuff.

Every Church leader who sat in silence is guilty.

Nazi Deacons.  No, the real, card-carrying Nazis.

Every one of these so-called ministers should have been pulled off the pulpit by the Elders the moment they spoke these blasphemies.  They should have been shouted down from their position by angry teachers of scripture.  Deacons should have bum-rushed them out the door.

Silence is consent.

The Heretics Hall of Shame
Inductee 3

Sean Harris
Berean Baptist Church
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Jerry Pittman
Grace Fellowship Church
Fruitland, Tennessee

"Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch."

No mockery of heretical, godless, hateful false prophets would be complete without this pair.  They go together like bacon and eggs, so they're inducted together into the Hall of Shame.  You may have heard of Sean Harris in the blogosphere because of his endorsement of child abuse.  Jerry Pittman took it a step further.  When a homosexual couple showed up to his Church, ole' brother Jerry sent the greeters out to the parking lot to beat them up.  You read correctly.  Reichspastor Pittman sent his SS troops, I mean Deacons, out to beat the men.  The unbelievable part is that one of them was his own son.  Really, at Grace Fellowship.

Allow me to preach for a moment.  All of you so-called Pastors on this page of shame have blasphemed the Holy Spirit of God.  Your hearts are hard and there is no hope for you.  You have heard and taught the Gospel, so you have no excuse.

Repent now and make amends.  Go wash the feet of those whom you have oppressed.  Protect them from men like you who are devoid of the love of God, whose evil hearts sow wickedness, violence, and hatred.  It was you that Jesus meant when he said: 

And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matt. 11:20-24)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rise of the Arab NGO

When the Tunisian revolution broke out, Egypt was quite prepared for its own. The first groups who marched to Tahrir and other squares on January 25th were organized by CSOs through mobiles, Twitter and Facebook. It was a day where civil society and information technology played a critical role. -Dr. Hoda Badran, “Arab Civil Society Power Transactions Locally and Multilaterally”

NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), or as they are often referred to in Arab culture CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) have played a key role in the wave of democratization sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa. They have raised public awareness on key issues, and helped shape the dialogue of political reform. By occupying a place outside the traditional social structures, they have also helped to loosen the grip of al-‘asabiya (tribalism) on Arab social development.

NGOs have also taken a prominent role in humanitarian work throughout the Arab world, where most of them function as service providers. In many Arab countries, NGOs provided service delivery, networking, mobilization, and the creation of “support systems” of various kinds, ranging from day-care centers to income-generating projects.

This rise in influence of the NGO is a result of a direct need felt by Arab society. “There is a change in mindsets in the region,” said Dr. Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States in UNDP. “We are moving with greater confidence in a new direction now, and there is a strong awareness of the irreversibility of change—change driven by the Arab street, not change adopted from afar.”

The development of NGOs has not been without difficulties. The normal structure of NGO boards is not familiar to Arab culture, nor is the proper balance of those relationships. Adapting to this style of shared leadership has been a slow and difficult transition. “Many of us were hurt during this process,” observed Dr. Nabil Costa, director of the Lebanese Society of Economic and Social Development. “A lot of people lost their jobs.”

Recent Research by the Arab NGO Network reveals the serious nature of these problems of governance. “Responses suggest that the lack of good internal governance practices is a principal obstacle to greater CSO effectiveness in the region. Answers reflect a weak understanding of key components of internal governance, including such matters as a vision and mission statement, an organizational strategy, an organizational structure, and the appropriate divisions in governance and management structures,” reported ANND analysts. “Most respondents do not clearly articulate a vision statement. Of the CSOs, 36 percent leave the question blank, and only 17 percent provide a clear vision statement.”

Lack of cohesive governing structures is also a major issue. “Inconsistencies appear in replies related to hierarchical relations within the organization – that is, relations among the governing bodies, the executive level and staff, and representatives of constituencies. These inconsistencies may stem from an organization’s failure to have an effective organizational chart,” the analysts noted.

If NGOs are to be more effective in the molding of social development in the Arab world, they must overcome these leadership issues. “It's important to have a strong board behind the President,” advises Dr. Riad Kassis, a leadership consultant for NGOs. “You also need a President who knows his or her relationship with the board.”

Having internal cohesion and purpose will be essential in facing the many external challenges to NGOs and their work in society. The UNDP Arab Human Development Report (2009) observes “Arab CSOs play a significant role in spreading awareness of human rights issues by expanding the agenda and by demonstrating public concern for that agenda through their intervention. Their public image is however often tarred by Arab governments, which characterize them as agents of foreign powers dependent on foreign funding. They frequently encounter government-imposed restrictions, obstacles and harassment, and hence have limited membership. “

Despite these problems, both internal and external, Arab NGOs have proven to be foundational to the development and advancement of freedom in Arab societies. Insuring their continued maturity, and the development of proper governance, is essential to the development of democracy in the region. As a provider of Christian and Educational materials to the Arab world, Dar Manhal Al Hayat will continue to support the nurture and fostering of good governance.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Me Wed?

My wonderful wife of 20 years is sick this morning, and as a dutiful husband I sat on the couch and watched a chick flick with her.  Normally my eyes glaze over and I think about video games for a couple of hours, but this movie caught my interest a bit because it stepped outside the normal wedding story/love triangle memes that define chick flicks.  The protagonist decides to marry herself in order to address the constant urging of her friends and family to get married.

Narcissisitc, Moi?

We have a problem in our society with foisting off marriages on the unprepared.  How can we act surprised at our astronomical divorce rates when our society is feeding that machine constantly?  Nowhere is this mistake more common than in the Church itself.

Some time ago I read an article about an elderly minister who passed away after many years spent performing weddings at a Chapel in the Smoky Mountains.  In the article it was mentioned that he had performed thousands of weddings over the years as a Chaplain.  While many people commented on how wonderful this was, I found it tragic.  Now, I have nothing against eloping for Chapel weddings.  My parents travelled to Georgia for a Chapel wedding and enjoyed almost fifty years of good marriage before my father passed away.

But there are crosses on
the top so it's still official.

I am opposed to ushering people into marriages for which they are not prepared.  You see, while this gentleman may have performed thousands of ceremonies, he didn't provide Biblical counseling for the couples.  There's no evidence that he tried to determine if they are believers.  He did a cultural ceremony with the trappings of Christianity thrown over it.  What makes this a shame is that this supposed minister of the Gospel should have known better, the Bible is very clear on these issues.

You are window dressing.  Jesus said "What God has joined together, let no man break apart."  God joins a believing man and woman in a holy covenant.  This means that no matter how much you read from the Bible, no matter how many times you pray, and no matter how many crosses are in the building, you cannot join anyone in marriage.  You cannot make anything Holy, Pastor.  You cannot join adulterers or non-believers in marriage.  You are window dressing, so act like it.

Several years ago a faithful Christian friend told me that his wife was divorcing him to marry another man.  She wasn't "happy."  What irked me most is that she had already planned her wedding with the Pastor of a Church in Albertville.  I understand grace and forgiveness, and fully believe that divorced people can repent and move forward with their lives, even remarrying when repentance and forgiveness are done.  But, you don't get to play that card if you are planning your wedding and divorce at the same time.  Jesus called that "adultery."  Shame on that Pastor who thought he could make that union Holy.  It was unholy, right there in the Church building.

This is not the important part.

What you can do is provide Biblical counseling to help couples know if this is God's will for them.  Confront them with the Gospel and make sure they understand the marriage covenant.  Try to talk them out of marriage if you can.  One couple came to me about marriage because she was pregnant.  This was not about a couple wanting to get married before God.  This was a divorce waiting to happen, complete with child custody battles and bitter, broken lives.  Thank God they listened to Biblical counsel and did not marry.

Friends and Family:

Every time you have the uncontrollable urge to pressure someone to get married, cut off one of your fingers with a knife.  When you have experienced that level of pain, then you can understand what you are inflicting on your beloved friend.

But I really, really want grandchildren

If you actually want to help your child, friend, or family member, discourage them from marriage, because that's what the Gospel does.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.  But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

What?  Remain unmarried?  Who will love my child/friend?  What good purpose can s/he have without getting married?  Here's a crazy thought... How about God?  Can we trust him to give purpose and love?

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Instead of pointing our children to the wedding chapel for purpose, let's point them to the Creator of the altar.  If you truly believe that God made your friend/family member for a purpose, then that must be the most important thing in his or her life.

The crazy girl in "I Me Wed" seemed to understand that concept better than most Christians.  Ironically, she married her boyfriend at the end of a movie.  It is, after all, just a chick flick.  The whole message of the movie was sold out to the inevitable plot ending required by the genre.

Let's not sell out the message of the Gospel that way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Whom would Jesus hug?

A friend recently shared with me a blog about a group of Christians who did something very radical.  That always gets my interest going, especially if it's the sort of radical thing that Jesus might do.

"Occupy Golgatha: Saving the 100%"

In this case, they attended a gay pride parade to apologize for all the hatred poured out against homosexuals by some within the Church.  It struck me as a very Christ-like response.  Because of their Christ-like love, something incredible happened.  People responded.

If you don't think Jesus would hug this guy, then get your Bible ready.

Here's what I'm not trying to do:  I'm not trying to redefine what the scriptures say about homosexuality.  It's pretty clear, just as it is about other sins like gluttony, arrogance, pride, greed, and hatred.

Here's what I am trying to do:  I'm trying to start a conversation about priorities that are based on solid Biblical teaching.  These priorities are spelled out clearly and repeated over and over to try to get them through our thick skulls.

When most Christians encounter a homosexual, they assume that this person's biggest problem is homosexuality.  If only that could be "cured" then the person would be OK.  In fact, the same mistake is made about  Muslims, alcoholics, or any other group that doesn't crowd into Church on Sunday morning. But, even if these people got past their "problem" would they be right with God?  Isn't it about more than that?  I submit to you, gentle reader, that we have confused the Great Physician with Dr. Phil.

Nice guy, good Doctor, can't save souls

You see, what we all need is Jesus.  Please don't ever lose sight of that simple truth.  He gave himself to die on a cross so that we would understand love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Love must be our first response.  If we try to preach to people that we aren't willing to love, it's only noise.  If you can't love, the Bible says, your good advice is just meaningless noise.

Love is patient, love is kind. 

 I looked for "Love is tough" and it wasn't on the list.  Maybe there's a time for that, but before we decide what love ought to be, should we not practice what God says it should be?  Why do we think we get to rush past "patient" and "kind?"  How can we expect people to take our Bible seriously if we are not willing to do so?

Very entertaining, poor theology

Great sermons will not bring people to know Jesus.  Lectures on morality will not lift the heavy burden of a troubled heart.  Judgement is not ours to give to the world.  Let's be real, is any of us without sin?  If the Church is anything, it is a place for sinners to find grace.

After all, is it my business to judge outsiders? You are to judge those who are in the community, aren't you? God will judge out­siders. 

We're supposed to give love first.  I lay a challenge before you, reader, one that I will take up myself.  If there is a person in your life, or a group of people, to whom you have shown judgement but not love, make that right.  It may mean an apology, perhaps even a hug.  Don't waste another day moralizing instead of loving.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.