Wednesday, July 29
Apostles' Creed Focus
“from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”
“Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’” - Ezekiel 33:10-11
“It’s not fair!” When children don’t get the same privileges of their older siblings or can’t eat another cookie or don’t want to go to bed, they often herald this statement. Yet this cry isn’t reserved only for children. In recent months, we’ve had many opportunities to apply this same reasoning. Cancelled trips, lost jobs, and schooling our children at home have inconvenienced us. We’ve also witnessed injustices and conflict dividing our nation. “It’s not fair!” rolls off the tongue with ease.
Would anyone else admit that they have asked, “Where is the Lord in all of this? Why doesn’t He intervene or stop pandemics and conflicts?” If we aren’t careful of our lenses, we can start to create a god in our image (one that makes sense to us) rather than remember that we were created in His.
Ezekiel was a prophet who warned God’s people to trust and obey God. Only they didn’t listen. They reaped the consequences of their actions and ended up in exile in Babylon. During their hardships, they developed a skewed view of God. Ezekiel exposed their wrong thinking in this way, “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just.” (Ezekiel 33:17) They said aloud what we sometimes think to ourselves, “It’s not fair.”
During difficult seasons, we too are in danger of blaming God when He wasn’t the one who introduced sin into the world. We live on a cursed planet, not because of God but because of sin. He created a perfect world, and one day He will set all things right again. Things may not seem fair to us or make sense with our limited view, but we can know for sure that God seeks to redeem, restore, and warn us. Ezekiel had warned the Israelites to turn from sin. God no longer sends prophets as His megaphone because He has given us His complete Word. It tells us of His Son who beckons us to turn from sin and His Spirit who empowers us to live righteous lives.
Yet we often want to live our own way and then blame God when life is hard. Suffering is complex and not always directly the result of our personal sin. Often we endure hardships because we live on a broken planet. Instead of crying foul when life is hard, we can remember the graciousness of our God. He takes no pleasure in the consequences of sin, but seeks to turn us back to Himself.
The people of Judah had decisions to make. Would they turn away from sin and toward God and live? That is the question that confronts each of us today as well. As a good Father, God doesn’t delight in discipline, but He has warned us to choose life by choosing Him!
Lord, help us to see you clearly. We want to align our hearts and minds to who You say You are in Your Word rather than a god we make up in our own heads. Help us not to be swept away into blaming when we suffer. Instead allow us to remember that You call us to return. You don’t delight in judgment, but long to forgive and help us. In Jesus name, Amen.
Verses for Further Reflection
Ezekiel 18; Lamentations 3:31-33; Galatians 6:7-9
God’s love and God’s justice are two sides of the same coin - you can’t have one without the other. As you teach your kids and help them gain an understanding of God’s love, it is important to also teach them about God’s justice.
Check out the following verses about God’s justice:
In addition to the Scripture above, this analogy may be helpful in explaining God’s justice to kids:
Think about a judge. If the judge saw someone steal something or hurt someone else and then when they got to court he did nothing about it, would you say that he is a good judge? No. We expect judges to stop people that do bad things and to put them in jail. Now think about God. God knows all the bad things we do. If God never punished people for the bad things that we do, would we say that he is a good God? No. People that do bad things deserve to be punished. That is fair and right. If God punished all of us eternally in hell, that would be fair - it is what we deserve. God is just, but the GOOD NEWS (the gospel) is that he is also loving and gives us the chance to receive forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
God’s love and God’s justice are two sides of the same coin. Teaching your kids about one without the other is incomplete. Helping them understand God’s justice will also help them to have a deeper appreciation for God’s love and grace, and it will help them to have a fuller, more well-rounded understanding of the gospel.