God’s Judgement: Not so Black-and-White

In a recent article in one of the liberal-leaning periodicals, the author challenged her readers with the premise that God’s “mind and will are not as simple as black-and-white print on a page that can be read and then fully known.”

There is a fundamental flaw in the statement. This assumes the user has tried to interpret verses of scripture. The Orthodox Church has averted any pretense of literal interpretation of scripture. How does the Church prevent falling into this trap?

To this question, we will use the fullness of the body of Scripture. There are recurring themes presented throughout both the Old and New Testaments. One of these themes is appropriate to present in this discussion – that the Church looks attests to what scripture has demonstrated that God is incomprehensible and His ways are beyond finding out (cf Job 9:11). As Orthodox Christians, we seek out to understand God’s will for us and to act on it, knowing that it is the plan for our Salvation. What we know about God is what He has revealed to us. God is beyond man’s philosophical constructs. We trust in this revelation that it is what He has set forth for our daily needs and part of the greater plan to lead us to salvation. This plan, this revelation is black-and-white and exists in the sacred Scriptures and it set forth in the entire corpus of scripture.

Concerning salvation, do we take it seriously? In our spiritual life, do we approach our salvation as trying to please our Lord and to grow closer to Him? There are some who take a different approach and rather worry more about the state of others and whether this person or that person will be saved. Our salvation and that of others is in God’s hands. It is a fool’s folly to waste any energy worrying about the way God will judge others. Our salvation requires our full attention and effort. The enemy seeks to destroy us and one his greatest weapons is leading us into a sense of self-righteousness. This dangerous and corrosive attitude leads to self exultation, which ultimately sets us on high as an almighty judge.

Concerning the danger of pride, the Prophet Isaiah warns us of the fall of the Archangel and how he exalted himself, even to the throne of God:

“O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! {14:13} For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: {14:14} I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. {14:15}”

Fearful are these words! Who is righteous as God and who can pass judgement. God alone knows man’s heart and will. Christians are challenged today as being the most hypocritical and hateful lot. “Look at you judging others”, they say. With mocking they challenge us that we do not practice what we preach. Beloved, our preaching should not be with words but with deeds. We must be careful so that we do not lead others to blaspheme or curse God because of our weakness and frailty.

In scripture we heard the Gospel account concerning the calling of Matthew, the Tax Collector. How scandalous this must have been to the Scribes and Pharisees. How does our Lord respond, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:13. Countless other examples fill the pages of the New Testament showing us the power or repentance and the danger of judging others…remember the Good Samaritan, the Sinful who annointed the Lord’s feet, the Prodigal son, the Publican? Need we add more? Simply read and re-read the prayers of preparation for Communion and we begin to understand.

It is exactly those, sinners, Samaritans, prodigals, Canaanites, and harlots -the detestable ones, the people we judge, that our Lord came to save.