Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How Is The World To Be Judged

Earlier, I posted about trying to teach theology with my youth. I do a weekly newsletter. Here is my reflection on the lectionary reading: Acts 3:12-26. What are your thoughts?

How Is The World To Be Judged?
Acts 3:12-26

Do you remember a time when you thought your parents were absolutely going to kill you? Have you ever had that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you have just made a dreadful mistake that will hurt someone else severely? How did you feel as you faced your parents or the person you wronged? Do you remember those tense moments as you waited for them to respond?
One of the biggest words thrown around in Christian conversation is judgment. As our denomination argues over issues such as the war in Iraq, homosexuality, who can receive communion, and how we should worship, there is always a powerful tendency to draw lines in the sand and pronounce God’s judgment on those deemed outside the boundary lines. Liberals and conservatives are both quick to pronounce God’s judgment on the other. In doing so, they miss out on how God actually judges the world. As an Easter people, we must remember that our understanding of judgment begins with Jesus’ death on the Cross. As the soldiers were nailing him to the cross, Jesus did not condemn them but instead declared, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). After his resurrection, he sent for Peter, who denied him three times, and for the disciples who largely abandoned him (Mark 16:7). In Christ’s resurrection, God pronounces judgment on sin, death, and evil. His judgment is forgiveness!

Forgiveness, though, is the scariest form of judgment imaginable. We expect punishment, wrath, and anger when we hurt someone. It is always easier to receive forgiveness with conditions. That way, we feel as though we earn our forgiveness. What do we do when it is given to us as a gift? Think about what Peter reveals to the crowd gathered after the lame man is healed. He states, “You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 3:14-15). At this point, you would expect Peter to call down the wrath of God on the evil ones who killed Jesus. Instead, he urges them to “repent...[to] turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord...”(Acts 3:19-20)! In response to his crucifixion, Jesus offers forgiveness to those who conspired to crucify him. There are no conditions, save for one. All we must do is turn again and live in the constant refreshment and blessings of God. The only requirement for us is to return to God and live in his superabundant blessings, grace, and love! This is God’s judgment. In the face of sin, even the murder of his Son, God pronounces forgiveness. Thus, the way of Christian judgment is the way of forgiveness.

Think about how this would radically change our lives together. Imagine a church where we forgave our enemies. Here is the scariest part, though. Imagine how this would change your life. What if you realized that having been forgiven of your sins, you were called to forgive actively the sins of others? What if you began to realize that rather than judging others harshly and condemning them for what they had done to you or your friends, you were called to judge them with love and forgiveness? Imagine what it must be like to be an Easter person in an Easter church living to see the entire world receive and enjoy the wonderful blessings of a God who judges not with hate and condemnation, but with love!

2 Comments:

Blogger Eric Lee said...

Scott,

This is good, thank you.

I find judgement and forgiveness in the Eucharist, as well, in really profound ways. In contemplation during the time when one of our pastors is blessing the elements, I am heavily convicted of my sin. Walking forward with whatever faithfulness I have, I know that in thankfulness, not only do I receive forgiveness in the bread and wine, but also on the cross nearly 2000 years ago, once and for all time.

1 Corinthians 10:14-17:

"Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."

These words have especially been convicting me lately, that of 1 Corinthians 11:27-32:

"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world."

I pray that we stay awake!

Peace,

Eric

April 26, 2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Charles Cameron said...

Reading your blog, I wondered if you might be interested in my blogs - www.christinallthescriptures.blogspot.com and www.theologyofgcberkouwer.blogspot.com

July 16, 2006 1:54 PM  

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