Have you ever read something or heard something from someone that you thought was absolute junk? I happen to have a fairly critical nature about me and there are tons of times that people say or do something and my first reaction tends to be something like "that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard (or seen)!" There was a time that I was spending more time on the blogosphere than I do now, reading blogs, reading blogs of people who made comments on blogs and keeping up ongoing "conversations" which sounded a bit more like arguments to most other people. I don't spend quite as much time doing that anymore, but unfortunately, it's not because my critical nature has somehow soften. I'm still critical.
One instance was in regard to something that happened awhile ago. I read some work by an author that I was going to be working with. Granted, I didn't read everything, and I didn't even read the entire book that I started, but I somehow gained a certain critical vibe. I felt myself continually wanting to say "yeah, but" to many of the arguments presented. I had a certain idea of what this author was like, the agenda that they had, a general conception... which became a mis-conception when I finally met this person.
That's when it dawned on me. How could I possibly judge someone's work when I've never met them? How could I possibly understand what someone is saying, what someone is truly meaning without some kind of relationship? Now, before you have a heart attack, I'm not suggesting that you need to meet Hitler to know the Holocaust was wrong, or Stalin to know that the Goulag was wrong. But, there is something to be said for the fact that we don't sentence anyone for a crime without having a jury present at the trial. We don't try people in absentia and we invite an accused to speak to the jury.
But honestly, criminal behaviour is not where I was going - simple criticism and JUDGMENT is where I was headed. Because, I can feel free to disagree with someone, with anyone I choose, but is there a need for me to stand up and publicly criticize them? Is there a need for me to pass my judgment on their thoughts, ideas & on them as a person? No, I don't think so.
In our society, we can communicate without ever meeting someone. That's cool. I've made friends with people in the virtual world (if that even is a reality - in my opinion, there is only 1 world...), and that's lead to meeting them in person. That's neat. But that same communication also leads to the ability to criticize and judge without meeting someone, without being in relationship. I don't think that's a positive development.
When you get right down to it, if God is willing to go to great lengths to save a relationship with us, if God is willing to offer grace instead of judgment, shouldn't we, even with our lightning speed communication and technology, hold off on our judgment and hold out for relationship? I think so...