2/15/13 George 17
Walking down the sidewalk, I asked an approaching young man if he had time to answer an interesting question. “You’ll probably think I’m crazy for asking this” I told him, “But what do you think happens after this life. What comes next?” He look at me without expression for a few awkward seconds, and then answered – “I usually don’t like to talk about religion with people,” he began, “…but this question is so important I just have to say something about it” This began a long and fruitful discussion in which I found out that he – George – attends a Presbyterian church, believes there to be a heaven and hell, understands his sin, knows he would not deserve to go to heaven, and still believes he will go to heaven regardless “because God is supposed to be forgiving”. George was humble enough to avoid overestimating his own goodness before God like so many people do, but the mistake he did make was underestimating God’s goodness! Because of His goodness God is angered by sin and its effects and takes strong action against it. “Would we really want to believe in a God who thought sin was no big deal?” Because He is good God keeps His promises – and He promised that He will punish sin. “Would we want to believe in a God who breaks His promises?” And because He is good God loves justice and demands a just penalty for sin. I asked George “Does forgiveness simply mean that God just forgets our sins?” I wanted him to understand that God’s forgiveness isn’t cheap and it isn’t passive. We aren’t forgiven by virtue of God’s neglect to act on our sin. His response to our sin is anything but passive. He took action to demonstrate His loving forgiveness without sacrificing His justice. He paid an incredible price – His own Son on the cross. George had believed in a cheap forgiveness – one in which God ignores his own justice and sin has no consequence. But God is too good for that.