Who Wants A Judge?

James Krieg | Nov 7th, 2013
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)

The idea of a God who judges is unpalatable for many people. In fact, it’s the reason some reject religion altogether:

‘I can’t believe in a God who will send me to hell simply for not believing in him!’

‘Any God who demands we meet such a standard, and then sends us to hell when we inevitably fail, is a monster.’

We All Want Justice

Yet regardless of what we conclude, all of us have some sense of justice, fairness, and an innate desire to see evil and wrong corrected.

If this weren’t so, there would be no basis for rejecting or refuting the Christian belief in God as Judge.

You see, if I refuse to believe in God because, in my view, such a God is unjust, I betray my implicit belief in and desire for justice. I’m saying that God doesn’t meet my standard of what is good and right and fair.

It’s In Our Bones

We all agree that justice is good, especially when it impacts us directly.

If we were to witness our own loved ones brutally killed in front of us, we’d find it a travesty if the murderer was set free.

We agree that it’s appropriate to be angry about human rights abuses. And we feel (rightly) satisfied when dictators are toppled and criminals captured—or even when we’re simply shown to be right when we have been falsely accused.

Justice is in our bones. You could even argue that it’s the foundation of a civilised society.

So Why Not A Judging God?

So why do we react so strongly to the idea that God will bring justice to this world through Jesus Christ?

Why are we happy for human beings to carry out justice, but struggle with the idea of God doing so?

We need to honestly ask: who is more qualified to bring about justice—a good, loving and all-knowing God, or imperfect human beings with mixed motives and limited knowledge?

Yet people (even some Christians) are not generally receptive to the image of Jesus as judge.

Jesus, A Judge?

Often our view of Jesus is a bit soft - ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’.

Perhaps we see him as essentially a good moral teacher telling us to love one another, not judge others, help the poor, and respond to violence with pacifism.

Lurking behind that can also be the belief that people are generally OK: we have the moral capacity to step up and be good, and in doing so, fix the world.

Yet if this is the case, then the cross was meaningless.

The Best Qualified

The claim that Jesus will judge the whole world has two foundations:

1. Jesus is qualified to judge because he himself perfectly met God’s standard.

When Jesus said to the men ready to stone the adulterous woman, ‘He who has no sin, cast the first stone’ (John 7:53-8:10), he was the only one qualified to do so—that’s why he stayed when they all left.

The reason we cannot judge is because we ourselves are imperfect.

But Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father, even to going to the cross. And so the Father raised him up as a demonstration that he was the Holy and Righteous One.

Ultimately, he will stand as the perfect human being. And everyone will be measured in comparison with him.

2. Jesus does not stand at a distance and judge as one who cannot understand us.

He is one of us (he is still, and will forever be human). He has experience all our pain, struggles, temptations and injustice.

And he desires to declare sinners ‘Not Guilty’, which is why he willingly and lovingly went to the cross to pay the sentence of death that we all deserve!

Jesus promises this verdict—justification—to all who repent and trust in him.

Let Justice Roll!

All this means that Christians look forward to judgement day with great hope and anticipation.

For us it will be the day when we literally hear our Saviour’s verdict.

The struggle with sin and temptation will be over.

And all that is evil, destructive and perverse in this world will finally be purged as he makes all things new forever.