God's Referee?


I have some very fond memories of Friday nights growing up. During football season my dad and I would head to a different high school each week so he could referee. I learned a lot of football and North Carolina geography, and the time spent with him was really neat.

A lot of what a referee did in those days involved judgment calls, and it still does. Long before replay and all that, the referee made the best call he could and that was final. Let’s suppose that some of today’s current thought patterns had entered into what was called, combined with the book of written rules. Suppose my dad one night had blown his whistle and said:

“Son, you fell on the back on that player’s legs and blocked him, which could have caused a serious injury. That is a clip which is against the rules, but who am I to judge what you did?”

Or a little later he again blew his whistle and said:

“Now you two guys hit the quarterback long after he had thrown the ball, and that is a penalty called roughing the passer with a late hit, but who am I to judge what you did and what the intent was?”

I do not need to say that neither in that day nor today would my father or any other referee last one minute doing such off-the-wall things. 

We live in a culture that does those kinds of things daily. Because the majority’s spoken opinion is that almost anything goes and is acceptable, almost everyone is afraid to call anyone’s hand on anything. But we as Christian believers “are our brothers’ keepers,” which means among other things that we are the truth tellers and moral compasses to the unbelieving world. I do not think it is too much of a stretch to say that we who follow our Lord and biblical morality are the referees of society who need to blow the whistle so that society will not destroy itself. Is that not part of being “salt” and “light?” 

When Jesus said “Judge not that you be not judged” [Mt. 7:1] what did he mean? A careful study of the words of the text tells us that he was telling us that we do not have the right to condemn someone to eternal perdition and write them off. He reserves the right to final jurisdiction for he is both their Creator and Judge. Then he goes on in the next verses to command us to judge/evaluate righteously and correctly in accordance with truth. No, our society does not like what they label “moral police,” and we certainly have to police ourselves before we can ever help set the standards for others. But the people of God have always been the ones who were given the responsibility to show to the world by word and deed just what the true God is like and what he requires. 

Friend, if you and I never make a value judgment of another person, we will never open our lives or our mouths to witness to anyone, for who am I to determine that someone else might be without God in Christ?  

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George McGuire, I judge that you have written a well thought out article.    Without judgement, there can also be no grace. 

Hi George,   Thanks for your thoughts on being our society’s referee.  But I’m quite certain that our society, world, or culture says “no thanks.”  They’ll tell you that our society didn’t appoint the Christian church to be the keeper of rules for our society any more than it appointed the Muslim church, Hindu church, Jewish church, Mormon church or any other group to monitor our behaviors.  Most people will tell you that they have the good sense of knowing right and wrong themselves. Christians may appeal to their God inspired Scriptures but so does every other religion.  So the nonchristian might ask, which referee should I listen to, or does not this great variety of referees (religions) cast doubt on them all as to monitoring cultural behaviors.  Are all religions  right or are they all questionable.  They all claim God as their authority and claim to be the one true religion.  Maybe it’s the church’s role to monitor the behaviors of their own members, like your father being a sanctioned football coach, not “cooking” judge, or wrestling umpire.  I’m just trying to figure out how people in our society might respond to your well intended whistle blowing.  I think our culture’s response will be that they would rather watch the church for a while and see how well those rules are working for them.

Keep in mind Jesus taught that complaints (criticisms) were to be made in the local congregation (Synod?), listed the steps that were to be taken before it got that far, and told us not to criticise another person's servant. Also "pay to the government . . ." and "if you are asked to go a mile . . ." and "turn the other cheek." Then there is the very interesting historical report in Acts 5:34-39.  Don't know how all those admonitions should be resolved in a democratic republic during a national election. <G>

Many people suggest that we should never judge anyone, for only God can judge.  And it is true we cannot really be the ultimate judge of the heart.   But Jesus said to enter by the narrow gate that leads to life, not the broad gate that leads to destruction.  God is judging and will judge.   When we bring that to the attention of people, including when others bring that to our attention, we should not be hindering our spiritual admonition and encouragement by using the verse "do not judge" as a weapon to avoid responsibility or admonition. 

Scripture itself says that thieves and liars and adulterers and fornicators will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  For us to ignore the warnings of scripture under the guise of grace and tolerance, is to prefer the broad gate that leads to destruction.  God is an amazingly gracious and loving God.   Jesus died for us!  Gave His Life!   To treat that lightly is to fall into the trap of a dead faith.   As the book of James indicates, faith without works is dead, useless.   That word "works" includes how we live our life, how we acknowledge God's lordship over our life, including our words, deeds, property, family relationships, sexual activities, and our priorities of how we spend our time and our money.  

It is more important to be a "moral police" within the church with those who confess Christ with their mouths, than to attempt to be a moral police for those who deny Christ.  

"Scripture itself says that thieves and liars and adulterers and fornicators will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Unless the CRC has a doctrine of sinless perfection, that includes all of us. Still, I am thankful that I am not as sinful as that nasty IRS agent standing over there. <G>

I timothy 1: 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law[a] is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me".  

The righteous shall live by faith.  Faith without deeds is dead.   The law condemns us all, and only Christ's righteousness can make us new, so that the sinful become obedient, slave traders stop trading slaves, the ungodly become godly, liars stop lying, perverts stop perverting, and adulterers become faithful.   When Ananias and Sapphira thought they could ignore their sanctification and obedience, they were in fact denying their faith, and paid the penalty of death.  It is as Paul said, it is no longer I but sin that lives within me.  So Paul stopped persecuting Christians.  Paul stopped his pride.  He changed.   And he wrote I Timothy.. I Timothy  ,