The notion of God as the judge is, in our culture, one of the most difficult declarations for people to accept. Our culture likes tolerance better than judgment, or at least that's what we like to think. Other cultures around the world, though, find the mercy of God more offensive than the justice of God, feeling that His mercy is a sign of weakness.
Setting aside the discussion about our propensity to pick and choose which parts of God to believe in based on which parts we find appealing, there are some careful considerations to make about God as the judge:
1. Judgment is about moving the story of God's redemptive plan forward by curbing, containing, or destroying evil. The goal is seen in Ephesians 1:10-11 where we learn that history is moving to Christ's life filling all things. This will require the subduing of all that refuses to be filled, and this subduing is judgment. We say we don't like judgment, but we really do, when understood in this light. We like it when 'cancer' is subdued so that it doesn't spread. Most people were happy when the holocaust ended. We like it when child molesters are contained so that they can no longer inflict their damage on young lives. So, before we get too bothered by the notion of God as a judge, perhaps we'd better consider the reality that we really do look forward to the containment of death, evil, and suffering. Such containment is judgment. Perhaps the best being in the universe to orchestrate that containment is God!
2. Judgment is therefore motivated by both love and justice - Containment of evil is an act of love and justice for the whole of creation, eventuating in blessing and fullness of life for all who are willing to receive it.
In enlightened days like these, it's politically correct, perhaps even spiritually correct to avoid any discussion about judgment, to believe that all roads lead to the pot of spiritual gold at the end of rainbow. But this is not only a contradiction to the Bible, it's a contradiction to the real world, where evil things happen at the hands of people. So here are some things to ponder:
1. Are we resistant to the idea of God as the judge? Why or why not?
2. Is judgment similar to discipline?
3. Share a time when discipline are judgment served a redemptive purpose in your life.
4. What are the dangers of the doctrine of judgment and how can we avoid them?