OPINION

The most unpopular of Christian teachings: judgement

The most unpopular of Christian teachings: judgement

As our states continue to manage COVID, I find myself thinking about this question.

Each time I 'check-in' to a public space I can't help but think of the times when cases of community infection occur and a list is released of all the places that person had visited while contagious.

How would you feel if the hidden details of your life became known?

Usually the list contains little more than a litany of hospitality venues and shops.

Yet it makes me wonder how I would feel if my every move were suddenly being scrutinised and made public.

Do I really want my wife knowing that I was wasting more money on books that I will probably never manage to read?

A more significant example occurred in 2015 when hackers exposed the data of 32 million accounts from 'Ashley Maddison,' a site designed to facilitate marital infidelity.

'Have an Affair today on Ashley Madison', the site proudly proclaimed.

Suddenly the names, passwords, addresses and phone numbers were published for all to see. Unsurprisingly it lead to high profile users being shamed, marriages being ruined and even to cases of suicide.

All of this brings me to one of the most unpopular of Christian teachings: judgement.

John 3:16 was once the most well known verse in the Bible.

These days people are far more likely to half quote Matthew 7:1. "Judge not."

It's not that we are against judging others. Every one of us can be judgemental when others transgress what we believe to be good and right.

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When you read the example of Ashley Maddison you likely found yourself thinking that someone had done the wrong thing, whether that be those who used the service or those who made the details public.

What we find jarring about the idea of judgement is that I might be the one on the receiving end!

When we know there is truth to an accusation we can become defensive.

When we disagree with the judgement we can become offended.

Yet the Gospel holds out two very important truths.

First, that God will hold every action to account.

As the Book of Hebrews puts is, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

That is to say that every through, word and deed will be laid before God and we will be measured against his standard.

When I think about some of the things I've done in life, having it all exposed would terrify me if not for the second great truth of the gospel.

The second truth is that Jesus died on the cross to experience the judgement that is rightly mine.

As Paul wrote to the Roman Church, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

One of the reasons I fear my secrets being made known is that I fear what others might think of me. If the people I hold dear knew every part of my life, I worry that very few of them might stick by me.

Yet what the gospel tells me is not only did Jesus know everything I have ever done, even the worst of it.

But knowing all of this he still gave his life to make me his own.

Tim Keller sums it when he says. "The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."

How do I feel knowing that the hidden details of my life are known?

I feel thankful that I can come to Jesus who removes all need for me to fear.

Do you know this comfort?

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