Preacher Man

Today on campus, we were visited by “Preacher Man.” This gentlemen has risen to some notoriety in the Northern Colorado community for publically protesting various issues. He happened to be at our school to protest educating women—something I was unaware was a hot political topic—but the rally gradually transitioned from education, to abortion, to marriage, and encapsulated most of the controversial garbage we can’t agree on as a society.

It was like watching a train wreck. As this older man with grey hair and dark sunglasses waved his neon orange sign in one hand and held his fuming cigarette in the other, students flocked around him to challenge his extremist views. His response normally was to quote his orange sign, which read “You Deserve Hell.”
At one point, over the commotion, he yelled out, “I’m judging you. I am here to judge all of you.”

Everyone sneered at this comment. Obviously, this was not a man whose opinion meant much. If you were in his inner circle, you probably were a little out of touch with the rest of society. But this comment jumped out to me. This man had no authority to judge anyone. Regardless of his opinion, he couldn’t alter the inherent value of anyone who could hear him.

But we are a species that both loves to judge. We like reality TV shows where we can vote for our favorites and laugh at those acts that are clearly just “bad.” We love to share our opinions with people and give advice to how they could solve their problems. We have inherit ideas about what is right and what is wrong and we value the freedom to express these views.

But we are also a species that fears judgment. We jump on the latest fads so we don’t get left out of the in group. We use diets to make sure our bodies look how they are “supposed to.” We color inside lines because that’s how we were taught to do it and you won’t get judged if you just do it right.

In Ecclesiastes 3:17, the writer says, "God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed." The part of this verse that strikes me is that the verse says “God will bring into judgment…” not “we will bring into judgment” or “preacher man will bring into judgment” but “God will bring into judgment.”

And isn’t it funny that when we stop judging people we find that we like them a lot more. Our relationships just work better when we let go of our expectations, or our needs, or our fears and just enjoy and appreciate one another. But God being the sole judge doesn’t just relate to our relationships with others; it also relates to our relationship with ourselves. God is the only one who can judge if we are good enough, if we are worthy, and if we are loved. We cannot—or rather, we should not—even judge ourselves. We don’t know the standards and we don’t have the authority.

By God’s standard, the answer is simple. We are good enough. We are worthy. We are loved.

When the police showed up, Preacher man was in the middle of chastising a girl who is on birth control as a means to manage a hormonal problem she’s dealt with since puberty. As he wagged his finger inches from her face saying, “You are being controlled by the anti-Christ. I feel the darkness in your soul,” the police tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to move along. Willingly, he set down his sign and followed them, flashing a peace sign with his two fore-fingers.

And as he walked away, the same girl who he ridiculed for her use of birth control jumped up on the bench he had occupied for the past two hours and said, “Hey Preacher Man!” At this, the cops stopped and the rabble rouser turned around.

“God loves you,” She shouted, without an ounce of judgment in her voice.

Zach Herzog

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