|It is interesting to
note that as we have seen a threefold division of those who lament over
Babylon (kings, merchants and workers) we see a threefold rejoicing (heaven,
apostles and prophets, saints). This
is a work of art!
however, to many Christians is the issue of judgment. We have been taught so often that we should
not judge that we feel uncomfortable when we see it in this, its most severe
form. There are two views of this,
however. We have the New Testament
view: we see ourselves as criminals
before the Lord, asking mercy. The Old
Testament often asked for judgment -- but much like we would ask it in a
civil case. “Oh, if only I could
afford the lawyer and take that guy to court!
Then I would see justice!”
|God, being perfect,
would be perfectly forgiving, we think.
But this poses two insoluble problems:
|• If God continues to
forgive forever (rather than just for a time, waiting for repentance) then we
come to the strange possibility that by refusing to repent we can make evil
go on forever. As C. S. Lewis put it,
we would be granting hell the power to veto heaven.
|• We must also
remember that the judgment is not upon our enemies so much as on the enemies
of God. The principle is this: suppose you read about a crime in which
someone, with no apparent motive, is savagely beaten to death. Naturally, you deplore the crime. Logically, you would support the police in
their investigation if you could. But
how much more strongly do you feel about it if the victim was a little baby?
|Why the difference
in your feelings? Because an adult is
not entirely innocent -- but the sense of outrage grows for the child. The child in our eyes is innocence itself,
and therefore there is no possible way in which the baby could have deserved
the beating. When we say of an adult,
“He didn’t deserve that” we are implying (under our breath, of course) “but
he did deserve something.” Which
mitigates our feelings. Our first
reaction to a baby killing is, “He couldn’t possibly have deserved
that!” Innocence, purity, when
outraged, provokes our deepest feelings -- and rightly so.