The world was supposed to end on September 23. Or at least that’s what I read.
Maybe you did, too. Some stars and planets were supposed to align in some different kind of way to give us some kind of signal that this was, at long last, the end. I’m not sure how you passed the 23rd of September, but my family and I went to a cookout. It was delicious. And the world did not end.
The reason we went to the cookout was because they’re fun. And also because I didn’t think the world was really going to end. Had I been convinced the world would end, it no doubt would have affected me and our family in some way.
I wonder if that’s a bigger truth than cookouts and crackpot predictions. As Christians, we do in fact believe the world is going to end. Jesus is going to come back. God will execute His just judgment. That reality should affect us now.
The most obvious way God’s judgment should affect us now, as Christians, is that it should motivate us to be busy about the work of the kingdom. We should be sharing the gospel liberally and freely, knowing that judgment is coming for all. And we should be investing our resources in the things that matter – the kingdom things that will not be consumed when that judgment comes.
But let me also pose three other ways that the reality of God’s judgment should affect us now:
1. It gives us confidence in God’s promises.
The reality of God’s judgment is a great evidence of God’s unwavering commitment to His promises. Some of these promises are more comfortable for us to think about. We love God’s promise to work all things for good. We love His promise to never leave us or forsake us. We love His promise to complete the work He started. But He has also promised to judge the earth. And if He does not keep that promise, then all His promises are now suspect.
For God, it’s an all or nothing proposition. That’s the beauty of His consistency of character. So the reality of God’s judgment should make us even more confident, now, that all His promises are true.
2. It frees us from the need for vengeance.
God will judge justly. That means He will demand an account for every wrong, every mistreatment, and every act of injustice. He will execute His vengeance on the day of judgment. And that’s a good word for us now because we are living in a culture of revenge.
We have to get back at the people, whether in person or on line, that have done some kind of perceived wrong. Problem is that our attempts at revenge are all intermingled with our own self-interest and self-service. But if we are confident in God’s judgment, we can live in freedom from the constant compulsion to execute our own brand of vengeance.
3. It encourages us that God is paying attention.
Sometimes we might begin to think that God is not paying attention. After all, look around you. The righteous suffer. The unrighteous are prospering. Like the psalmist, we can look to the sky and cry, “Where are you, God? Are you even aware of what’s going on?”
He is. And we must be careful not to mistake God’s patience with His apathy. He is paying attention. And when we are sure of His judgment to come, we can also be sure now that He knows and sees all that is happening in our lives and around the world.
The judgment of God is terrifying, good news for us as Christians. But it’s not just something that we should think about in a vague way; rather, the reality of what’s coming should compel us forward in specific ways right now.