One day there was a perfectly healthy man. He was in a hurry to get to the bank, and so he parked in a handicap parking spot. The bank line was long, and three handicapped persons ended up parking far away from the door. One old woman with crippling arthritis hobbled painfully across the parking lot to get to her doctor’s office next to the bank.
A parking officer saw the man’s car and left a parking ticket on the windshield.
Later, the man went to traffic court and confronted the judge. In his defense the man said, “Your honor, I know what I did was wrong, but I was in a hurry. Besides, I’m basically a good guy”. The judge thought for a bit and said, “Oh, alright. That’s fine. You don’t have to pay anything”, and he let the man go.
Over the years the judge moved up the legal ladder and was appointed to hear more important criminal cases. One day a man, who had set fire to a house, appeared before the judge. The judge looked at him sternly.
“It says here that a family of five perished in the fire you started. The youngest was a newborn baby girl”.
The arsonist, in his defense, said, “Your honor, I know what I did was wrong, maybe even evil. But I’m basically a good person. Please have mercy on me”.
The judge thought long and hard. After a long silence, he peered over his glasses and said, “Okay, that’s alright. You are free to go”.
The next day a thief, a murderer and a rapist appeared in court. They all were set free without any penalty.…
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This story is obviously fictitious. Even the most corrupt of judges would not handle justice in this manner. Upon reading this you might have felt anger or at least rolled your eyes. At some point you might have thought, “This is unjust. This is absurd”. But this is exactly the type of god many of us choose to believe in – one that is unjust and absurd.
When talk of God’s judgment comes up, we get uncomfortable. “I can’t believe God would judge anybody,” some say. “He is merciful and loving”. What about the judge in the story above? Was he a good judge? This is the kind of god many of us want.
Why is this? Because we don’t want to repent. We don’t want to admit that our faults are an offense to God. We are proud. So we create a false god in our imagination – a god that forgives all, no questions asked. This is the false god that I worshipped for many years of my life.
The words “final judgment” elicit great anger and fear in many hearts. It drives many to embrace atheism.
When we appear before God, what will be our defense?
This leaves God in a dilemma (of sorts). Maybe he thought: What am I to do with all these liars, cheats and killers? What am I to do with all those that envy and lust? And those that dishonor their parents? What am I to do with all those that take my name in vain? What am I to do with all those that worship the false gods of money, power, sex and addiction? And those that worship a false god that requires no penalty for transgressions against me and against others?
I AM merciful. And I AM just.
Like it or not, God is perfectly just. If we believe that he should be otherwise, then we should also accept the conduct of the judge in the story. He either lets us all off the hook or he sends us all to hell.
But God is also infinitely merciful. That is why He sent His Son. Only in this way could the penalty be paid, in full, perfectly. God’s Son, a man without sin or transgression, paid the price for the arsonist, the killer and the rapist. Jesus paid the price for me and you.
We so much want the blessings of God but none of the sacrifice. We want a god that forgives as if there’s nothing to it. But in our reality we set a much different standard. God never takes the easy way out. He always shows us a more excellent way. There is a high price for sin. Forgiveness does not come easy. True healing comes at a cost.
If we are to follow a God that gives us lasting Peace, Hope and Love then we must have Faith. Faith in his justice. Faith in his mercy. Faith in His Son.
I will never enter heaven because I am “basically a good person”. I will enter heaven because Christ shed his blood for me.