Judgment or Grace?
What do you want from God? Grace? Forgiveness? Healing? Guidance for important decisions? Yes, these are all things we look to God for, but they are not the primary things that God offers.
Consider the middle verses of our Psalm for Sunday (Psalm 19:7-10):
7 The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.
8 The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.
Notice what is promised: law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear, judgments. And these are all celebrated! For modern, western Christians, these tend to be the things we avoid. We don’t want our faith to be all about rules, following instructions, statutes, fear and judgment. Our faith is often caricatured as being just a bunch of outdated rules and self-righteous judgment. Our culture had taught us to believe these things are bad. In fact, a popular phrase now when speaking of something that others might find questionable is “Don’t judge me,” implying that someone the one making a judgment is the one doing a bad thing.
And yet even in this season of wanting no judgment, we are so quick to pass judgment on others. Social media seems to specialize in passing judgment without even knowing the facts.
The truth is that human flourishing requires both law and grace, judgment and forgiveness. And that is what we are offered by God. Just as toddlers need to learn and respect the word “no” and yet to know that it is not the end of love, so adults need to know that there are boundaries and limits to appropriate behavior, yet there is grace and forgiveness when we are out of bounds.
Thank God for both!
This column was published in the January 27, 2019 issue of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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