I don’t know if I think too much because sometimes I just feel like I should just enjoy and stop thinking. Maybe it’s just the way the Lord has wired me?
Anyways, one of the things I’ve been reflecting on has been the whole issue of God being both judge and friend. It’s another one of these oxymoron’s we find in the scriptures.
You really cannot get two more opposing pictures when thinking of a relationship with someone! I’ve been to court and it can be a little overwhelming – especially if you’re the one in trouble, standing as the accused.
You have the judge who is always seated much higher than anyone else. You have the defence table and the prosecuting table as well as the witness chair. There is this space around the judge which cannot be invaded without express permission to do so.
Everyone comes in with the appropriate attire and when the judge enters the room everyone must stand until the judge is seated and then we sit when we’re told we can sit down. The judge really controls the whole “show.” There is this solemnity which surrounds the court room and the judge who is presiding. One has to be very careful how they speak, always addressing the judge as “Your Honor” otherwise one is in danger of contempt of court.
You cannot treat the judge as a friend and talk to him/her as though he/she were your friend. If you do you can be in contempt of court.
You cannot enter this sacred space around the judge without being in contempt of court.
One stands in the courtroom full of respect and honor towards the judge otherwise one will be in contempt of court!
Now in truth, the judge is supposed to judge with total impartiality but in reality this often does not happen. There are many things which seem to “impair” the judgement of the judge. For one judge, the rape of a woman commands two years in jail while another judge can commit another felon to five years jail for exactly the same crime.
Justice does not seem to be meted out and many of us have lost the respect of the court system. Now, the key is the employment of the best defence lawyer one can afford. The guilty often go free and the innocent are often punished (simply because the guilty go free!). A very unjust system indeed!
Now, when we consider God as judge we can be certain that this will never be the case. He will never act unjustly as his characteristic is that he is a just God. What ever judgement God passes we will know (or need to know!) that it will be a just judgement.
One problem (okay, it is a rather big problem!) is that most people seem to blame God for all the bad stuff that happens around the world today. Not sure why that is but maybe it’s because we don’t want to take responsibility for our own actions and the reactions that occur because of our actions?
Because of this God has already been judged as a bad judge, one who is partial and unfair.
But, on to the flip side of who God is and that is: he is also our friend!
He longs for relationship, he longs for intimacy with us, he longs for us to engage with him in life, to hear his heartbeat for us, his dreams and desires for us.
We have so many different picture painted for us which demonstrate his desire for friendship, for relationship – being our father, our brother, our saviour, our friend, our shepherd, and so on…
It’s hard to hold these two very opposing views of God together – one as judge where distance is kept and the other where intimacy is longed for through relationship with us.
We seem to easily gravitate to him desiring intimacy and friendship with us. It’s so much easier to deal with and to enjoy. If I do something wrong, that displeases him then I have nothing to fear because he is my friend and he wants to embrace me and extend grace to me.
Being judge just seems a little too scary for us to want to embrace!
But, if we were to embrace him being our judge, if we were to consider that every act I do is going to be judged by him in one way or another then maybe, just maybe, we act and live a little bit more differently than we currently do!
Do we simply embrace God as our friend a little to our detriment? Should there be a little bit more honour and respect shown to God in the way we act, speak, behave with one another as well as with him?
We seem to long for justice to be meted out to others but what about to ourselves?
This is what the Lord has been challenging me in of late. I love to focus on and enjoy the fact that he does desire friendship and intimacy with me but I tend to shelve the idea of him being my judge.
I’m realising that I need to become much more conscious of God being my judge and give him far greater respect and honour than I do – simply because I do focus on just the friendship factor.
What I am realising is that when I do focus on God being my judge then I treat his friendship with a different spirit. I embrace it with more gratitude and generosity. I want to learn to live with a greater balance between the two.
My past experiences have taught me that there are many people who live with the view of God being judge as their predominant view. They seem to love to beat you over the head every time you do something wrong and seem to have a very strong view of law, or right and wrong. They seem to be very quick to judge you as soon as you err. They do seem to struggle with any concept of God’s grace and the intimacy he desires with each one of us.
The reality is, it’s hard to develop any sense of intimacy when the greatest focus is on doing right or wrong, on God being a our judge. That’s why I want to come a greater balance between the two. I feel like I err too much on the grace side.
What about you? Where do you stand in the spectrum?