Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sermon Discussion - judgment

Sermon Date - November 16th -
Text - various
Topic - Christ's coming to judge the living and dead

The notion of God as the judge is, in our culture, one of the most difficult declarations for people to accept. Our culture likes tolerance better than judgment, or at least that's what we like to think. Other cultures around the world, though, find the mercy of God more offensive than the justice of God, feeling that His mercy is a sign of weakness.

Setting aside the discussion about our propensity to pick and choose which parts of God to believe in based on which parts we find appealing, there are some careful considerations to make about God as the judge:

1. Judgment is about moving the story of God's redemptive plan forward by curbing, containing, or destroying evil. The goal is seen in Ephesians 1:10-11 where we learn that history is moving to Christ's life filling all things. This will require the subduing of all that refuses to be filled, and this subduing is judgment. We say we don't like judgment, but we really do, when understood in this light. We like it when 'cancer' is subdued so that it doesn't spread. Most people were happy when the holocaust ended. We like it when child molesters are contained so that they can no longer inflict their damage on young lives. So, before we get too bothered by the notion of God as a judge, perhaps we'd better consider the reality that we really do look forward to the containment of death, evil, and suffering. Such containment is judgment. Perhaps the best being in the universe to orchestrate that containment is God!

2. Judgment is therefore motivated by both love and justice - Containment of evil is an act of love and justice for the whole of creation, eventuating in blessing and fullness of life for all who are willing to receive it.

In enlightened days like these, it's politically correct, perhaps even spiritually correct to avoid any discussion about judgment, to believe that all roads lead to the pot of spiritual gold at the end of rainbow. But this is not only a contradiction to the Bible, it's a contradiction to the real world, where evil things happen at the hands of people. So here are some things to ponder:

1. Are we resistant to the idea of God as the judge? Why or why not?

2. Is judgment similar to discipline?

3. Share a time when discipline are judgment served a redemptive purpose in your life.

4. What are the dangers of the doctrine of judgment and how can we avoid them?


At 13/11/08 17:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am definitely resistant to Yahweh's judgment, which is the same as being resistent to His discipline. Heb. 12:7-9 says: "7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
His discipline brings the rewards of great peace and understanding in all of life's events and it never is too harsh or too weak.
I am His child because He shaped me with His discipline and love by letting me experience the results of depending wholly on my innate self until I thought it would be better to not live than to go on in that paradigm.
God's judgment or justice and discipline is perfectly matched with His compassion or mercy, grace, and love to meet my individual needs.
If Yahweh were too much compassion without enough justice, it would bring about the unfortunate result of destroying the integrity of life itself. If He were mostly justice without compassion, it would bring anarchy and death.
Wayne Bays.

At 16/11/08 20:31, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just returned several hours ago from this amazing sermon. I have always, even growing up in the Church, had questions about what God's judgement is and means and how it plays out for Christians and non-Christians alike. Many of my questions were answered tonight. And yet... I am still left with questions. As Christians, I understand that we too will stand before God and be judged. Richard stated tonight that sin would be either "confined" or eliminated. As Christians, who will be judged, where does Jesus and His forgiveness play in? As Chrisitans, we stand forgiven, redeemed, washed whiter than snow when we repent, and, as RIchard said tonight, we are called as Christians to FOLLOW Christ and live lives that glorify Him. So... when we stand before God and are judged, I would assume that our destiny (heaven or hell) is not at stake, but I wonder how God will "deal" with the sins we have certainly committed in this life. What exactly does it mean that God will "deal" with our unrighteousness as believers? Perhaps these are questions that cannot be answered... but they are questions that have remained in my mind for years and I've never really had the opportunity or courage to address them. Any input/wisdom/thoughts would be appreciated.

At 17/11/08 10:36, Blogger Jen said...

Thanks for the sermon last night Pastor Richard. I've always struggled more with the idea of a final personal judgment (not so much the collective judgment) because it is hard to understand why we need a 'reckoning' with Jesus if we've already been saved and covered by grace. What is the purpose of the judgment? Your description of Jesus finally exposing any remaining weeds or tares in our lives makes sense, because the ultimate purpose is for all that remains to be of God. It completely changed my view of judgment, and it was also great that you emphasized judging ourselves rather than others. Only God can judge others.


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