This world isn’t fair. Neither is it kind. We all crave justice. Yet, we also need a generous dose of mercy, for we ourselves are often unjust and unkind. Therefore, it’s difficult to even imagine God’s perfect blazing holiness that equips and qualifies him to judge and to make right all the evils and injustices in the world, including our own. We can’t comprehend it, yet we long for it and simultaneously fear it, for we are well aware of our own shortcomings.
We want justice, especially if we’ve been a victim. We like that God is just. We want Hitler and Stalin and all the more modern monsters to be held accountable for their atrocities. They will be. But then, so too will we, every one of us, for we are not innocent. We don’t like to think about that.
One day we will stand before God to give an account of all our thoughts, words, and deeds (see HERE). As during the recent natural disasters, we will not be in control. These events give us a glimpse into an unsettling reality.
Fire can do unexpected things. It leaps over waterways, roads, and plowed ground intended to stop it. It travels faster than anyone can predict, depending on the wind, the altitude, and the amount of moisture in the air. It typically destroys everything in its path, yet, for odd and unknown reasons, an untouched oasis is often discovered.
These characteristics of a raging forest fire can help us imagine God’s coming reckoning. The Bible even uses this imagery, comparing God to a devouring fire (see HERE).
The day may arrive sooner than we think. None of us know the day of our death. Once we’ve died, we can’t correct the situation. Maybe we don’t actually have time to make right the things we keep putting off. Maybe that apology should not remain unsaid. The fire may be blazing up the hill toward us, but we are unaware. We need God’s mercy!
The hurricanes show us that flood water cannot be controlled. It equalizes everything and everyone, spilling over manmade dams and levees, flooding rich and poor alike. Storm surges prove more powerful than previously calculated. Water goes into places that not even the engineers expected.
Similarly, God cannot be controlled or manipulated. He shows no favoritism. All must stand before him, whether we expected to or not.
A hurricane can form quickly, taking a tropical storm to a deadly monster in a mere day. It can also build slowly, causing fear and foreboding as we await the landfall. High winds can knock buildings flat and destroy entire cities. We have seen it. We must act during times of terror, our actions impacting those around us or perhaps endangering them.
Similarly, we don’t control when we will stand before God. We won’t be able to hide or to flee. All our internal thoughts or “hidden” actions will be exposed. God sees everything. God is just, and we know we are guilty. We are not perfectly kind, loving, or fair.
Is there any hope for us?
Yes! This is why Jesus came. Not only is God just, but he is also merciful.
Jesus’ mission was to sacrifice his life to pay for our sins – our flaws, weaknesses, mistakes, and harmful actions – thus fulfilling the demands of God’s justice and mercy. Entrusting ourselves to Jesus expunges all of our past, present, and future selfish, unkind, or immoral deeds, wiping our slates clean. All those who trust in him are forgiven. We can approach God with confidence.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18 NIV). (Also see HERE).
Jesus took upon himself the judgment that we deserve. This will make all the difference when we stand before a just God who longs to show us mercy. This is the gospel, the good news. It’s freely offered to all of us.
Have you accepted Jesus’ free offer of forgiveness and mercy? If not, trust him now. Ask for his forgiveness. Live for him and learn to love him more. Accept what he offers to you freely.
For a more thorough explanation, please listen to Liam Goligher HERE.