To many evangelical Christians, grace and judgement can appear to be polar opposites.
We deserve to be judged. We don't deserve grace.
Grace is what God gives us after we've been judged to be unworthy sinners. And, all thanks to our loving Father, that is true enough, of course.
But even though grace begins where judgment ends, judgment doesn't completely disappear from the scene, does it?
Oh, Conversations that Cometh from FaceBook!
I'm proud to say that I have an eclectic group of FaceBook friends. People post items from all across the social and political spectrum, including a heavy dose of serious religious content.
The other day, one of my FaceBook friends was musing about judgment and grace, eliciting a variety of responses; some, canned Sunday School fluff, and others more introspective. There were the conventional digs at judgmental Christians who don't dispense enough grace, a behavioral pattern I tend to emulate to my shame. Others wrote saccharine-laced catch phrases for enjoying life in freedom.
Now, granted, FaceBook hardly provides the ideal forum for deep theological dialog, but as I read the responses from other people, I got the impression that they were either not investing much thought into what they were saying, or they didn't have a lot of thought to say anything genuinely true.
Also, knowing my friend and recalling a conversation we once had about believers who use grace as a license for sin, I sensed that he wanted this to be an opportunity for shared conviction on the topic.
What Price Grace?
So, this is what I wrote:
Most of us under-appreciate the gravity of both grace and judgment. I think there's a weight to grace in that we're responsible for how we use the freedom from sin Christ purchased for us. Christians who consider grace a blank check need to review the debts and deposits in their account.
The thing about grace is that the freedom it provides us cost somebody something. In the case of our salvation, it cost God His Son. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. (1 Corinthians 19b-20a)
Although believers do not live under the law but under grace, we are not to use grace as a licence to do anything outside of God's will (Jude 1:4).
When you balance your checkbook, whether it's on the old-fashioned booklet you get from your bank, or it's on a software program, you have to reconcile your deposits and your debts. When it comes to our faith, where do all of the deposits come from? Here's a clue: none of them come from anything we do.
All we have comes from Christ. Whose sacrificial death was the only thing which could satisfy God's holy wrath.
Grace from judgment is free to us because it cost Someone else dearly. What joy to know God loves us that much! What gravity in knowing that love wasn't free.