“It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?”
Two young people were walking along in front of me in a local retail store. They were speaking quietly when suddenly, one of them turned to the other and in a loud voice exclaimed, “Don’t you judge me!”
No one likes to be judged, of course. In fact, we can construct vast systems of rationalization to justify our own thoughts, words and actions which tend to deflect, in our minds, the need to be judged. You might need judging, but not me! Most criminals, even when buried under an avalanche of condemnig evidence, will insist on their innocence. But if our lives are not worth judging, they can’t be worth much.
Animals don’t build courtrooms and hold trials. Creatures who live according to unerring instincts, and to which they are bound, cannot be held acountable for anything, really. The same cannot be said for you. You were created in the image of God. Simply, this means you have attributes which enable you to share in the management, the stewardship of creation. Although limited, God has given you power and knowledge which are of such importance that you are held accountable for how you use them. Among the parables of Jesus in the New Testament, parables addressing stewardship are the most common. And the motif of judgment is in them all.
Last summer Linda and I spent part of a day at the Orange County Fair. We strolled among the exhibits and enjoyed the people watching. At one point we stopped for a break at one of the many refreshment stands. We chatted with the woman who waited on us as she prepared our food. She asked me what I did for a living. I indicated that I was a pastor. She immediately commented about what the last judgment might be like. Obviously, it was on her mind. I looked her in the eye and said, “Remember this. The One who will judge you is the One who died for you.” Her mouth fell open. “I’ve never heard that before,” she said with a smile.
Left to ourselves there is little upon which to base a gentle judgement at the end of life. There is simply too much evidence against us. But your friend and brother will be on the bench and He has already spoken; “Father, forgive them…”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”