Wednesday, June 10, 2015

One Appointment We Cannot Miss

Afraid of going to a dentist? We can avoid such an appointment.

Avoiding a certain person? We can avoid a confrontation with him or her.

Don't want the inconvenience of a doctor's visit? We can avoid such a visit.

Too tired to keep an appointment? You can just not show up.

Decide that you do not need to keep an appointment? You can cancel it.

In this life, we can avoid most appointments we don't want to keep for one reason or another. We can get out of most of them and relieve ourselves of obligation or confrontation. Sure, by avoiding them, we may compromise our health, as in the case of avoiding doctor appointments. Avoiding dreaded surgeries can be done even if doing so will leave us with health problems or even risk our lives. Ducking dental visits may relieve us of anxiety and debt our dental health will suffer and we may even lose our teeth. Avoiding a feared or disliked person may relieve us of anxiety or interpersonal confrontation, but will do nothing to make peace with the person or restore a relationship.

But the Bible tells us that, as believers, we must all appear at one appointment. We will not be able to avoid it. All of us will be there. It does not matter who we are, how young we are, how old we are, how rich we are, how poor we are, how famous we are, how ordinary we are, how devoted we are or how lukewarm we are in following Jesus, or our current circumstances. We cannot duck it. This appointment is called the Judgment Seat of Christ. I wish our Pastors and Christian leaders preached and taught on this more. I do not think I have heard a sermon on judgment or on the Judgment Seat of Christ, in all my life. There are a few books on God's judgment, but not many. That is bad! For all of us will have to stand before this spotlessly holy, flawless, perfect God Who cannot tolerate a speck of sin and hates it with a passion! We will be standing before a God Who hates sin so much that He went to the far extreme of sending His own Son to the cross, to pay the penalty for it and open the way to make sinners acceptable to Him. Non-Christians will stand before God, but it will not be at the Judgment Seat of Christ but at the Great White Throne Judgment. As it is sometimes said, ten out of every ten people will die. Well, ten out of every ten people will also stand before God, whether at the Great White Throne as unbelievers or as believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

I do not know if standing before God ever crosses your mind. You may be so busy with the cares of your life that it never occurs to you. It does not help that most Pastors and Bible teachers neglect this important topic. Why does this topic matter anyway?

First of all, if you are a follower of Christ, there is one thing that can be ruled out right away when mentioning the Judgment Seat of Christ. We do not show up there to be judged for our sins. If we trust Jesus to take away our sins, He has already taken all of the judgment that we deserved for our sins. God's love for us is equal to His infinite hate for our sins and it is His love that moved Him to extreme of sending His Son to die so that we need never appear before The Great White Throne to hear the dread words "I never knew you; Get away from me!" and be cast out of His presence forever. Then what is the point of the Judgment Seat of Christ, anyway?

Like it or not, all of us who are followers of Christ will be evaluated for how we have lived our lives, what we did and why we did it as well as how our circumstances have affected and worked with us. Christ is perfectly impartial and fair. This can be both scary and comforting.

As I understand it, we will not be judged for:

How much money we have in the bank;

How many extra hours we spend at our jobs;

How many extracurricular activities we sign up our children for;

How many people speak well of us or declare us to be wonderful Christians;

How many people "friend" us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter;

Or even how many worship services we attend or how many sermons we hear;

As I understand it, we assuredly will be judged for:

How much of our money we gave and why we gave it;

How we treated people at our jobs and why;

How we nurtured our children in Christ as they grew;

How willing we are to obey Christ even if people trash us or exclude us;

How we use social networks to glorify God and serve other users;

And how we respond to what we hear at our worship services and why.

We will be judged for the quality of what we did on Earth and our motives will be judged also. We will be judged for what we did not do and why we did not do it. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be about our works and about rewards. I admit, it seems unfair that there will be inequality in Heaven, as well as authority structures. Many followers of Jesus will have great rewards, many will have good rewards and many others will be "saved as by fire" with nothing to show but simply being saved. But when we ponder it, is it only fair that a Pastor of a small church who preached the Gospel faithfully, may be exalted way above a famous megachurch televangelist who watered down the Gospel? Is it only fair that a mentally challenged woman who glorified God in life, may be exalted way beyond a genius Christian who lived a careless Christian life? Isn't it fair that a wife who stayed true to God in a loveless, atrocious marriage may be exalted way above a wife who enjoyed a happy Christian marriage and who tended to coast in life? Isn't it fair that a severely persecuted believer in the Muslim world or in North Korea, who suffered horrifically for Christ, will be exalted way above most Western believers?

While love for God and desire to delight Him and make Him proud of us is our first motive, there is a reason the Bible speaks so much of rewards. Our choices do have meaning even when it may not seem like they do. What thoughts does the very idea of standing before the spotlessly holy Son of God bring out in you?

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