Reconciling God’s judgement and God’s grace
- God’s judgement means that sin will not go unpunished.
- God’s grace means that we do not get what we deserve.
- God’s love means that we are all cared for.
How do we reconcile these things?
God’s judgement has traditionally been seen in terms of Hell fire, I have no idea how effective that was in the past, but in today’s postmodern society it does not seem to be working all that well as a way of convincing, or even frightening people into the kingdom of heaven.
The modern idea of justice is a lot less individual than that. It has become more group based, and less individualistic. People fight for black tights, women’s rights, gay rights, transgender rights and disabled rights. I support all of these. People often stereotype themselves whilst disliking being stereotyped. You need to be part of a group to fight for your right in early 21st Century society. The book Neurotribes by Steve Silberman has been found very helpful to Autistic people and for explaining autism as it speaks in the language of the modern day. But there is a demonising of people who do not belong to the group. Because I am white, male, heterosexual cisgender person I have been told to be quiet on things that I support because I am not part of that tribe.
God does not condemn people according to their tribe. But what was once seen as preaching against individuals is now understood as preaching against the group as a whole. The church needs a new vocabulary if it is not to be seen as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ablist and I shall add elitist. Traditional theological language is not only considered discriminatory, it IS discriminatory as we nave neglected how the intended audience perceives things.
God’s grace, love and mercy .
God being a God of love is written though the whole of scripture, God’s mercy also is through the whole Bible. So how does this relate to a God of judgement who will have people tormented forever? I do not believe that God does this, but is down to an over literal reading of apocalyptic portions of scripture. This is too large a subject for this blog.
But God’s judgement is not just in the future, when we wish to go against God, God says, “OK, have it your way.” If we are after money or fame and achieve them then they have had the reward they wanted. If not then you can always repent, no matter how many times you have turned your back on God.
God’s grace, love and mercy are never divorced from his judgement. God’s forgiveness goes both ways, it is a big YES to us but at the same time a big NO to sin. To repent is not the same as being sorry, we have to turn our backs on what we used to do that was against God. Modern society says we have to be tolerant of others, Christianity goes beyond this and says we must love them, even our enemies. love goes way beyond being tolerant, we need to go past this and do. Do not just tolerate those you disagree with, go beyond that and do something positive for them. We are supposed to imitating Christ in being self giving, saying YES to the person but NO to the sin.
If we can do that to people who chose their lifestyle how much more so those who cannot help it. As far as I know no-one has ever chosen to be black, female, gay, transgender and disabled. Yet the church has a long history for putting barriers in front of these people. The bible never said: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever is straight and believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV with my italics added.) Yet to hear some Christians rant on you would think that was the case.