>Today is Not Judgement Day


>For the past month I’ve been engaged in an in-depth study of grace. In previous posts I have made no secret of the fact that I am a big fan of Social Justice. Some have misconstrued what I mean by that and assumed that it would result in lowest common denominator equal outcomes. (i.e. Communism). That is not what I mean at all, to me social justice amounts to nothing more than equal opportunity and personal accountability. The challenge comes when we apply personal accountability to the idea of grace.

Grace is one of those words that shows up in ancient writing like the Bible and Quran but that has lost a lot of its meaning in contemporary usage. What the early translators meant when they used the word was much deeper and all encompassing than what we consider it to mean today.

Dictionary.com gives no less than 20 definitions of the word Grace. Many of them have very little or nothing to do with the theological implications that I’m trying to work out here but two stand out.

• a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior
• the freely given, unmerited favor and love of god.

Last week was Halloween. It’s tradition around my house to watch the classic Peanuts TV special; “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” We can usually find it on one of the major networks in the days leading up to October 31st. The post powerful moment comes toward the end, after Sally has spent the night in the pumpkin patch with Linus, without meeting the Great Pumpkin. Upon realizing that she has missed her chance to collect candy with her friends she turns on Linus and screams; “You Block-head! I’ve been robbed! I’ll sue! I demand restitution!” The image is one of complete contempt for Linus and what he has cost her.

In a world of justice based on personal accountability we are programmed, like Sally to demand restitution. How then are we to react when someone who has wronged us is offered this unmerited favor? More importantly, how are we to do the offering?

A full understanding of grace requires us to recognize how little we deserve it. When we break the law, or some other agreed upon rule we deserve punishment, the people we have wronged deserve restitution. Civilized people demand strict adherence to a code of conduct, whether it be written down as law or not. When someone breaks that code we are and should be held personally accountable. But that is not the way of grace. Grace, like love, “keeps no record of wrongs,” and therefore trumps justice.

The clearest example of this kind of grace that I can think of is in John 8. The Pharisees had found a woman caught in the act of adultery. The law clearly stated that she should be put to death but rather than apply the letter of the law Jesus asked if anyone present was completely innocent.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” [John 8:7]

As the full implication of Jesus words sank in every one of her accusers walked away and Jesus turned to the woman and said “Neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.” [John 8:11]

Many will protest that grace just isn’t practical. Justice and the rule of law are important. Without it the world would fall into a trap of anarchy and oppression. I agree, but grace doesn’t let us off the hook either. Did you catch the subtlety in Jesus words to the woman? He stopped short of forgiveness, she was still accountable, just free to go for now.

As I’ve studied grace for these past few weeks one overarching theme as stood out; there will be a judgement day when we are called to make a defence of your actions in this life. But today is not Judgement Day. There is still time to make things right.

Go now and leave your life of sin.

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12 thoughts on “>Today is Not Judgement Day

  1. >Lauren: Even the term "The Judgement Day," implies a time period to come when God — to put this in grossly humanized terms — will say, "OK, no more Mr. Nice Guy." And will start knocking heads together. No more grace. No more forgiveness. Maybe we should all be glad that this day has never come. Hopefully (probably) it never will come, although we know that the earth will eventually be swallowed up by the sun. Whether accidentally or by divine intervention, the scriptures got that part right: The elements will melt with a fervent heat. But presumably that day is far off. Way far off. And it's a good thing. Those of us who sit back thinking we have nothing to be ashamed of are simply basking in the glory of their ignorance. The more I learn, the more I realize the sinisterb social implications of political, economic, religious and governmental systems.Because we are a democracy, and we all make choices, if we pay federal taxes we are participating in every evil thing for which those taxes are spent. Best research the history of Colonial American south of the equator. I recomment "The Open Veins of Latin America," as a primer to start with. But saying that good is going to "have it up to here" and start thrashing humankind as a type of retaliation is gross. And even more gross is the confident belief that even though we kill millions of innocent people, God will forgive us our part in those little scenarios because we trust in the blood of Jesus, while unrepentingly support with our finances those government actions. Taking this a step further, when we use the scriptures to justify these things, THAT is truly gross abuse of religion.Another of Satan's tools is the dehumnanizing of people of opposite political spectrums. In many Christians' minds, Communists are no longer humans. In too many minds, any and all lengths are justified to stop people within another nation from taking control of their own natural resources. Nationalizing, for example, the copper mines in Chile, done by a government that was freely elected by a democratic nation, probably for that very purpose.The Day of Jugement, if it is not today, is never. The common conceptualization of it is a tool of the (modernist)Dispensational movement. A movement that was hardly even heard of prior to the last couple of hundred years.

  2. >Whether judgement day is a literal day or not doesn't change the fact that once we know the difference between right and wrong, we bring judgement upon ourselves. You are correct in saying that it is a gross abuse of religion to justify sinfulness by leaning on some far way justification through the blood of Jesus. Paul addressed this issue quite clearly; "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" [Romans 6:16:17]When Jesus said "Go and sin no more" he was saying essentially don't worry about the past, and giving the woman a choice about her future. It's the same choice we are given every minute of every day. When we fail, which we inevitably will, the only thing we can do is confess and then "go and sin no more". People who simply go on sinning (or repeat the same sin over and over) haven't taken that first step and admitted any wrong doing. As a result they live outside of grace.

  3. >Furthermore; not to say too much before I've fully worked it out, but this has led me to another thought which I intend to flesh out more fully in a future post. That is that grace is not, in and of itself, a form of salvation, rather it is an invitation to something that when experienced leads to repentance and then salvation. To say that you are saved by grace alone, while not completely false is at least incomplete. Stay tuned, I'll likely post on that in a few more days.

  4. >I got this sent to my personal email by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous….I do not quite understand the subtlety of your words on Jesus' subtlety. It seems to me that Jesus does indeed forgive her, saying that He does not condemn her. It's just not a blanket forgiveness which is usually associated with Jesus, one which covers all sins.And by the way, did you ever think that it was odd that the Pharisees did not bring the guy along with this woman so that they would both be stoned to death according to the law?

  5. >in response to anonymous I said..I do indeed think it odd that the Pharisees did not bring the guy but that was beyond the scope of the point I was trying to make. The whole thing smelled like a trap right from the start. As for the point on forgiveness, I intend to expand on that in future posts. Grace and forgiveness, in my opinion is not a blanket, once and for all moment which we can accept and then continue on as if nothing has changed, so much as it is an invitation to forget about the past and move forward as a changed person. "Go and sin no more," is a much more life changing statement then if he simply said "you're sins are forgiven."

  6. >Lauren, it is a good time to think of grace as an act of God's compassion towards us people. And because we are unworthy of such kindness from an Almighty against whom all sins are committed, it is us who twiddle our fingers as to how to deal with it. Sometimes the sin against us is national in proportion and we scream for justice. Sometimes I wonder what sort of moral grounds the US would have covered if Bush said that as a Christian nation we forgive first before rushing to a military solution. Devil inspired Pharisaic traps aside, I am not so judgmental of the US or those screaming for justice because I know that I will have difficulty dealing with kindness or compassion when I have to deal with the guy who raped a young child in my flock; or the guys who kidnapped a Sunday School teacher on the way to church, violated and dumped her 500 miles away after 3 years of captivity. The moral depravity inherent in humanity is so great, I think we misunderstand grace or we misunderstand life itself. I am going on a perch here: I think there is room to think of the possibility God rejecting some even before Judgment Day and that these should tie a millstone around his neck and jump into the ocean.

  7. >I used to glory inside of me that God has given us a perfect faith in Jesus and a path of personal righteousness by believing in him. It made me feel spright and good as a Christian. Then I began to doubt if Christianity is a perfect faith with a sound answer to all the moral dilemmas that life throws at us; and I used to wonder if personal righteousness is the path to being right with God. To be sure, these things came in heavy couched as "sanctification" and "assurance of salvation" etc. etc. Today much chastised, I think running after perfection of faith, and hungering after righteousness must inevitably lead to our fall … for so many reasons. But there was one thing that kept me going that remains unchallenged in my life, and that is the grace of God. I do not understand it but I know it is God's compassion clothed in another word. That our God is intimately involved in us and suffers with us. It is consolation in this lonely universe.

  8. >Kalai – doubt is perfect faith. As my pastor once said "This side of heaven the questions always win. Behind every answer there is another set of questions, part of being a good apologist is getting comfortable with and being honest about your own questions."

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