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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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How would you rate us today?

This question often pops up while I’m quietly living my life. It asks me to rate everything, from hospital services to the consumables that could put me there. On-line brownies, for example (ordered for others, obviously).

Occasionally, I do the star rating and click through the questions, skipping ‘Other Comments’. More often, I sigh and have another brownie a cup of tea. Why?

I dislike this constant need to evaluate. I understand the reasons behind it. Honest reviews can produce positive change, better services, and useful quotes to advertise customer satisfaction. I get this. I’m a writer. A 5-star review will almost certainly boost my book sales. A positive comment is even better.

But, in asking people to constantly make judgements, are we helping shape a society which only values measurable outcomes, insisting that anything less than perfect is inexcusable? Services are provided by human beings who, while quirky and lovable, are essentially flawed. Do not judge…For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged (Matthew 7:1–2).

Deep down, we know this: we make judgements as imperfect people. This makes us anxious. If I give a 3-star rating, it means my standards are higher. But I expect from others what I can’t give myself and one day, someone will find me out.

We strive daily to emulate the example of Jesus – loving, forgiving, generous – accepting we’ll fail and fall into the welcoming arms of God’s grace. Shame and anxiety are not features of God’s kingdom. Relief and hope are. How can we make these shine?

Next time you’re sent a survey, maybe fill in the ‘Other Comments’ section, sharing what you liked, whatever the grade. Simple actions can value the person more than the service – thank the waiter, leave the tip, chat with the labourer. You could show grace when writing a review – ‘The service was slow, but I could see you were short-staffed.’

Perhaps give people the benefit of the doubt – ‘I didn’t see a treatment plan but I understand it will be sent to me.’ And react in the opposite spirit – on an Airbnb holiday there was no whisk. Seeing one in a shop, my husband bought it to leave as a gift.

The main protagonist in my book, who is anxious and lonely, stumbles across people from her local church. When people stumble across us, is there a sense of relief, of hope?

How do we rate?

Deborah Jenkins is a freelance writer and teacher. She blogs at stillwonderinghere.net You can find out more about her books here


Questions Jesus Asked

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