Let’s talk about judgment.
It’s a dirty word these days, a dirty idea. To think, someone will dare tell me how I should do this or that, or that something I think is wrong?
Now extrapolate this concept to the idea of God, and people flip out.
But think about this: Society functions only because of judgment. We have laws and rules. We punish offenders who infringe on the law-abidings’ rights as a matter of course. We even have these people in black robes called “judges,” maybe you’ve heard of them?
And yet, the idea of a God that actually judges us is anathema to many. “It’s not fair!” “It’s mean!” and all of that.
I find this so ridiculous it hurts. It seems like the whinings a of an adolescent who doesn’t want to be held responsible for his actions.
A lot might be a fundamental misunderstanding of how judgment and salvation work. It’s not arbitrary, nor is it reliant on performing just the right actions while saying just the right words.
I think it’s also because the idea of forgiveness is so alien to us Moderns. We don’t even forgive each other—why on Earth would we forgive ourselves, or expect forgiveness from anyone else?
I just watched an old movie called The African Queen. Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn have to sail the titular boat up a river in German East Africa at the outbreak of World War I in order to reach the safety of a British colony. At their lowest point, when it looks like they’re going to die, Katherine Hepburn’s British missionary character Rose Sayer prays to God to “[j]udge us not for our weakness, but for our love…”
I like that quote, and it’s a great movie in general. And here’s the thing about divine judgment: It’s actually largely up to you. We’re so accustomed to quick fixes and easy solutions, getting bailed out of every bad decision, that we don’t realize that our fates are, to a degree, in our own hands.
This promise of judgment actually gives life meaning. It’s not just nasty, brutish, and short. It’s a blank page for us to write our own eternal stories.