Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We host a small group church meeting here at home tonight. One of the topics we discussed was God's judgment of us and our own judgment of us. Some pretty heady stuff but we did make some headway.

A couple of us agreed that if we were God, there'd be a lot more wailing and gnashing of teeth here and in the afterlife. It is easy to make judgments about other people's action, motivations and lives. More tempting is to judge our own actions, motivation and lives harshly. Meting out punishment to malefactors gratifies a strict sense of justice and a desire to see criminals get their due.

Luckily, God does not judge the way that we judge. A law student in our group pointed out that she's seen judges who she admires greatly. When it comes to sentencing criminals, they give sentences that will help the criminals to reform, that will protect them from themselves and that will protect others. The attitude is not to strike back but to repair the damage to society and to the individual who hurt himself by committing a crime. These judges temper justice with mercy and love, with the desire for the good of all, victim, society, criminal. The balance is tough to achieve. But that balance is the true aim of a just society.

God is love and He judges us, not to condemn us, but to bring us back to Him. To bring us back to life, to eternal life. That's why He sent His only Son into the world, not for His good or to lord it over us, but to bring us back to Him with a Father's care, with a lover's embrace. It isn't necessarily easy to accept, because sometimes that path brings hardships and stumbling blocks. God gives us those so that we learn to rely only on Him and not on our own abilities. Our abilities, if we honestly look at them, are pretty meager. God is infinite in power and love. Why look anywhere else?

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