Last Week marked the first time I had ever felt the cold, hard metal of police handcuffs. Several police cars and officers swarmed around me. My hands were locked behind my back and I was being bombarded by questions. What happened? Let’s rewind.
You might have called that afternoon a typical day in the office. I was sitting at my desk when a couple of the teen guys came in and asked me if I would join them in an air soft gun war (air soft guns are plastic guns which shoot little plastic BBs). I thought it would be nice to take a break and hang out with the guys for a bit, so I agreed. These air soft gun wars have happened many times around the building, sometimes with me and sometimes without. There have been times when we have had massive wars with many teen guys and other times with just a few.
We walked outside and soon started the battle. After evading each other for about ten minutes, I was searching for the teen guys and walking through the parking lot. In between the church building and the house sitting on the church property I saw two police cruisers drive by. In a matter of seconds they sped around the corner, accelerated towards me, quickly stopped, pulled out their guns, and commanded me to drop mine. I immediately complied and stepped away from my plastic air soft weapon. They told me to walk forward, turn around, and put my hands behind my head. They searched me for other weapons and then put me in cuffs. With my hands behind my back they began asking me question after question. Just to make the situation worse, and with impeccable timing, my Dad and one of the elders of the congregation walked outside. Soon to follow from different side of the building was the preacher and the two teen guys I had been searching for.
So, there I stood wearing my khakis and blue dress shirt, in handcuffs, with the police standing all around me, my heart beating out of my chest, and now several of our church leaders staring at me. To say I was embarrassed is the understatement of the century.
Thankfully, everything was cleared up quickly and I was out of the cuffs in a matter of minutes. The police realized we were just playing a game, there were no real weapons around, and no one was in danger. The problem was the police had received a report of a man walking around with an AK-47. Since there is a high school down the street and because of the society we now live in, the officer told me they originally had twelve police cars converging on my location.
I learned many lessons last week, the most obvious being that I will no longer ever take part in an air soft gun war anywhere in public. Another valuable lesson I learned was about how people judge each other. Was I doing anything wrong or illegal? No. Did I have any bad motives? No. Was I just playing a game? Yes. However, not a single one of these truths mattered because I was perceived by whoever dialed 911 as a very possible threat to the safety of others. I’m not upset at this person and can’t necessarily blame the caller (better safe than sorry), but the fact of the matter is, I was falsely judged.
It’s so easy to make false judgments about other people, especially concerning much less serious issues. Jesus said in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” This doesn’t mean we have permission to sin and then rebuke someone who tries to tell us we are wrong. This is talking about drawing conclusions about people before we have the facts. As Christians, we need to be slow and cautious before jumping to a conclusion. For example, we look at people with tattooed covered arms, Mohawks, or edgy motorcycle garb and think, “There’s no way that person is interested in becoming a Christian.” The younger generation looks down on the older and vise versa. Members make false judgments about each other and spread rumors. Elders, deacons, and preachers become the blunt of unjustified criticisms. Many problems would be snuffed out before they ever happened if we would abide by this verse. Lies would never get started. Gossip would be die down. Anger and hurt feels would be limited.
Continuing on, verse 2 says, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” How would we feel if God judged us in the same way we judge others? This would be awful! We would never want God to make false judgments about us. We want God to be fair and just in His conclusions about us. Therefore, let’s be ever so careful in the ways we judge each other.