Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Why the long face?

I heard a story* about someone who worked with seminary students. He would ask them "When God looks at you what expression is on his face?" A lot of the answers would be "disappointment" or "anger". It seemed to be a common consensus that, when God looked at us people, he probably wouldn't be happy.

At Mosaic we managed to get into a discussion about what judgement day would be like. Some people were saying that God would get out his big book, look up their entry and read out every wrong thing they had ever done. He would list every cruel thought, every lie, every act of lust, every cutting word they said. The list would go on and on and on. It would remind them of every time you rejected God's way and followed their own.

Surely it's different from this. If God still holds our sin against us, still has it written down in some massive dusty tome, then what was the cross for? Why did Jesus die? The Bible tells us that it is not like that.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
God does not count our sins against us. The passage goes on to say in verse 21 that we "become the righteousness of God." Through God's initiative, he has reconciled us to himself, so that instead of being sinful we become his righteousness.

Colossians 1:21-22 fantastically summarises what Jesus has done for us:
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation
We are no longer blemished. We can no longer be accused of all the things that we have done. Those thoughts, those lies, those words: we're free from them.

I offered my take on the day of judgement. I suggested that God would flick through his massive book, and he'd come to my name. There would not be a long list of all my past crimes and mistakes. Instead, the entry would look like this:

Thomas Ashmead
See: Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:9 tells us how we can get your entry to look like this:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
If you have confessed your sins to God, whenever he looks down on you he sees someone who his holy, pure, without blemish. I bet he looks well chuffed.

*Nicked from Kara Powell, 'Deep Ministry in a Shallow World' (DVD)


  1. It's silly how we as Christians can sometimes underestimate the power of the cross and still expect God to view us with disappointment... :] xx

  2. Isn't there a verse somewhere that talks about all our foolish deeds being revealed at judgement? Maybe I just made that up.

    I don't disagree with your post, but I'd be interested to find that verse if it exists and see it in context.

    1. Thanks, Rachel, for bringing this up. I did a bit of searching and found some verses that you may be thinking of. One is 2 Corinthians 5:10 (about 10 verses before one of the passages I quoted). It says, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for what he has done while in the body, whether good or bad." My helpful Study Bible suggests that this isn't referring to justification, which has happened (and was the premise of my post) but more a testing of the works we have done in response to Christ's gift for us. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 for more details!


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