Last year, California entered a drought, and I remember someone saying they thought it was punishment for the choices our state’s been making. I listened, unsure how to respond, because it isn’t exactly wrong theology. The Bible reveals a God of judgment and a God of grace. So which is He?
Right now there’s a big fire in our state, and the last several mornings, we’ve awakened to smokey skies.
Last night at church, we prayed for rain.
And I wondered at the heart of God…
will He give judgment or grace…?
At six o’clock this morning, I peered into the dark and saw all the wet.
Rain spattered across the walkway.
Probably not enough for the fires. But rain, nonetheless.
And I thought of Matthew 5:45, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
And I thanked God for His grace to all… that He’s longsuffering and gives kindness.
And then I thought of how it only takes one click on yahoo, or one scroll through facebook to have the heart struck with fear of judgment.
I thought of how some say the world used to be a safer place.
I thought of my own childhood when I played with neighborhood kids in the streets and walked several blocks in a big city to a little church.
And I wondered, has the world ever been safe? Or have we been stricken with fear?
Because there’s always been slavery.
There’s always been wars.
There’s always been beheadings and children taken.
Our world has never been safe.
Did we delude ourselves to think it was?
Do we teach our children to think it is?
What strikes me even more than the dangers of our world is the patience of our God.
He can’t close His eyes and pretend it didn’t happen.
He can’t shut down the computer. Never read the news. Go about living while ignoring injustices.
And He’s been bearing with humanity for centuries.
Just. like. this.
So why, oh Christian, do we live in fear of the judgment of God?
We look at our state and think this natural disaster could be His wrath – what’s deserved for all our sin. How could it be a grace?
When it comes to our individual lives, we run from the Word, because we fear its condemnation.
But why would God be any different with me than He is with the centuries of evil our world has endured?
Why do we fear His judgment when this we know: He continues to make “His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
And He suffers long, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
And did you not know “that the goodness of God leads you to repentance,” (Romans 2:4)?
Really, isn’t it His goodness that’s prevailed through all the evil of the centuries?
Isn’t it in His goodness that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)?
So why, oh you Christian, do you fear the judgment of God?
Receive His patience with our sin, and move into His grace.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:`17).
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” (Romans 6:15-19).