Scenes from the event remain fresh, despite the distance of over 40 years. Our church fellowship had a huge gathering each summer at Newport Dunes, a lot of activities and an evening service with music and a message. I rode there on my Honda 350, just like the one above, from my home in Long Beach, and Ken asked for a ride back.
Then at a light in Seal Beach, the bike stalled, short on gas, just as the light turned green. I quickly turned the valve for the gas reserve, started right away, maybe taking five seconds. But that exhausted the patience of the car driver behind me. Honking, then tailgating. The bike’s maneuverability kept me safe, but he continued chasing as I looked for a cop somewhere. No luck. He dropped out of sight, and I turned into a gas station.
But as I pulled onto the street, he moved in behind me again, close. Apparently he spotted me in the station and waited. In ambush. So the chase continued, we approached Ken’s apartment complex, I made a quick left turn the car couldn’t copy, turned right down the alley for the back entrance. Ken jumped off the bike and I jumped on the gas, only to see the car turn down the alley. Maybe100 ft. away, moving at me.
I never realized how nimbly my bike could make a U turn. Heart racing, and without Ken on the back, I lost him pretty fast this. But I discovered evil exists.
Because of five lost seconds at a light, he gave up half an hour to try and run me over. And I had no doubts on his motive. Still don’t. Evil exists.
We live in an age that celebrates “no judging.” Even in the Christian community. But living in a world with evil requires that we judge. If I had assumed the car driver was really a good guy, I’d likely never have written this.
An awareness of evil’s reality allows us to live in reality, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:45). Some people are evil. Period. And even good people do evil things. We call that sin.
God tells us to make a number of judgments. Paul gave the most extensive, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). That’s judging, and we wisely test each aspect of our lives to see if it leads to God or to Satan.
We also judge fellow believers, to see if they’re trustworthy, reliable, and their leadership capabilities, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:12).
Judging also applies to ourselves, “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:31). I like this verse—if I examine my own actions and motives, I need no fear of genuine judgment from God or fellow Christians.
In doing this, we need grace to guide every step, ”For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2, NLT). Yes, we judge. But if we desire to be judged with grace, then we also judge with grace. Hmmm.
Kick Starting the Application
What is your basis of moral absolutes? Your view of judging? How often do you make intentional judgments about good and evil? How well do you combine mercy and grace with your judging?