The gym where I used to work out has branded itself a “judgement free zone.”

Supposedly, at Planet Fitness, you can work out in peace, without worry or shame about your size or shape. 

Isn’t that a novel idea? 

I’m not going to Planet Fitness anymore because, you know, germs, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the so-called Judgement Free Zone.

We are getting ready to launch a new season of small groups in my church. We have decided to offer a variety of options for people to connect with God and one another. Included, will be some in-person opportunities (with a limited number of people in a giant room), but I feel the need to start the recruitment process by saying, “This is a Judgement Free Zone.” 

If you are in Zoom Meetings all day and desperately need to see another human in the flesh, we get it.

If you think getting together in person under any circumstance is a bad idea for you right now, we get it.

If you are using every ounce of energy you have to balance work and family and survive another day, and small groups at church are the last thing on your mind, we see you and love you and will be here for you when you are ready to plug back in.

Judgement Free Zone. No exceptions. 

This Sunday I am preaching from Luke 7, where Jesus is anointed by a sinful woman. I am struck by the amount of judgement in the description of her. (Spoiler alert FCC: You will hear this again on Sunday.) How sinful she is depends on which version of the Bible you choose.

In one version she is described as “a bad character.” In another it says she lived “a sinful life.” And my least favorite – which by the way, all the love for Eugene Peterson, but what the heck was he thinking on this one? – says she was, “the town harlot.” 

Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly if you know much about Jesus, he makes her the hero of the story. We don’t know the nature of her sin; we just know she had some, and yet, she was the only one to show Jesus hospitality, anointing him with lavish perfume as she wept.

Judgement Free Zone. No exceptions. 

I have started wondering lately if some of us have forgotten some of the rules during Covid Time. They may be rules about our faith – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Or they may just be basic morality rules – “Don’t be mean.” But if you spend much time on social media – which let’s be honest, what else are we all doing? – then you can see that a lot of us have forgotten the rules. 

Yes, we are all struggling, hard, right now with the state of things. Yes, we are tired of our houses and maybe even our partners (just kidding love you, babe) and Zoom meetings. We are all on the struggle bus, but friends, the rules about how we treat one another, they still apply. 

Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that if we are all nice to each other that everything will be just fine. But I do believe that our words matter (IRL or online) – that we lose EVERY time we betray someone’s humanity (regardless of how no good and sinful he or she is), and that when we hurt others we are also hurting ourselves. 

So let’s all pretend we are at Planet Fitness …

But without the germs …

and the workouts …

so basically it’s gonna be great!  

Let’s give the Judgement Free Zone a shot.

Rev. Megan Huston

Senior Minister, First Christian Church, Bowling Green, KY

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