There’s a line in our society that you just can’t cross.
In our ever-diversifying society, there is room for all types of beliefs and opinions. You can express yourself in almost any way you like. Chances are no matter what your behavior, interests or preferences, there are other like-minded people out there. There is acceptance and tolerance to be found in spades.
Unless you do one thing: judge. It may be the dirtiest word in our society; the unforgivable sin.
It’s something that trips people up when they engage with scripture. Because it’s right there. It’s all over the place. God judges. He separates and calls things right and others wrong. He has an opinion and it matters.
Our passages this week deal with these facts. But how do we engage with these pieces of scripture? Is it possible that we may even be wrong on what God’s judgement and wrath are all about? Why does his judgement matter and does it serve a purpose?
Let’s engage on it this week.
Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”
He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.
“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But not a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.
Sing a new song to the Lord,
for he has done wonderful deeds.
His right hand has won a mighty victory;
his holy arm has shown his saving power!
The Lord has announced his victory
and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!
He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel.
The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
before the Lord.
For the Lord is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
and the nations with fairness.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.
Father, I know that you are righteous and holy,
but above all you are good.
Your love abounds in everything you do.
Help me to understand your judgment in light of who you are.
May your judgment reign in my life,
so that your goodness, love and mercy may also reign.