7/14/13 Joshua about 25
At a McDonalds a young man named Joshua spoke with pride how he had continued to forgive his parish priest after the priest’s recent affair with a parishioner, while many others in the congregation judged and condemned him. Joshua reasoned that “God is loving and forgives everyone, so what right do I have to judge my priest?” By the same token, he believed no one had the right to judge him in return. In this way, a sort of co-dependency formed whereby church leaders and attenders agree to avoid judging one another, all in the name of God’s all-forgiving love, but only leading to a belief in cheap grace without thought of the tremendous cost paid for our forgiveness on the cross. It reminded me of how the Corinthians took pride in accepting the sexual perversion in their ranks, and how Paul had to order them to not to associate with the offender. (1 Cor. 5) But my focus needed to be on Joshua, not the problems of his church, so I said “Churches usually do a great job telling about God’s love for people because everyone wants to hear about it. But what about God’s love for justice?” After we talked a while about this I asked. “I think you would agree that you would need mercy, not justice, on judgment day.” He did. “You could never say that you have earned God’s forgiveness with good works” He agreed, but said “But if one does those works without any thought of a reward, just out of the kindness of their heart, then I think God would reward them.” As I’ve shared the Gospel I’ve come across many who feel this way. Being cognizant of heaven and hell, reward and punishment, threatens to rob them of their “genuine” motives for doing good deeds and their reward of heaven, so they try to avoid talk of the subject completely. “But there is a third way” I told Joshua. “Instead of doing good deeds selfishly to earn a reward, or trying in vain to be completely selfless and do good without any thought of reward, Christians are given the opportunity to do good simply as a response of gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. Jesus died on the cross, saving us from the consequences of our sins, and He said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. So instead of trying to earn salvation, we are given the opportunity to respond with love.” We can love, because He first loved us. How beautiful is that?!!