40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:40-43
I’ve been thinking about the above scripture lately, but in a different context.
When Jesus returns, He will do so in a manner that overthrows the wicked in this world, including the false prophet, the beast that the world worships, and the Great Whore of Mystery Babylon.
The scriptures call this “the wrath of almighty God.” As a Christian, I trust that the blood of Jesus covers my sin. However, I also trust that the sacrifice of Jesus is no small thing. I also trust that the teachings of Jesus, including the parables and the understanding He provides by the Holy Spirit in Revelation, offer insight into the fate of those who do not respect the calling they have in Christ.
As I learn about what these teachings mean and what the judgments of God are for us, I see my shortcomings all too clearly and it is a little terrifying. It’s kind of like facing a cross.
So, that makes me think about the man on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him. However, the context I’m thinking of is more like “remember to show me mercy when you come in judgment” because I know full well that I do not deserve to stand in that judgment.
For example, if I were to generalize the themes learned so far within the “These Things Saith He” writings into sinful characteristics that make one fit for being cast out as part of the Great Whore, I would find some measure of these within myself. Maybe not to a notable degree at this point in my life, but even the slightest degree is sin and reveals something in myself that is not right in the eyes of God. And I know better. That is scary.
Yet, I also know that we all need mercy, so I hope in mercy for all who sincerely love Jesus. I also trust that all who are called according to the will of the Father will find mercy, because the grace we receive is preordained and nothing can separate us from the will of God.
Judgment. Mercy. Faith. These are things that Jesus stated as “weightier matters of the law.” I think that statement is starting to make a lot of sense, too.
It is good for us to learn the judgments of God. When I say, “judgment” I mean an understanding of what is right, what is wrong, and the promises of the Lord towards those who overcome in His Name and the fate of those who do not. It is also good to hope in mercy and to put our faith in His perfect sacrifice, timing, and the will of God, which is always just, true, and good.
It is good to fear God also. I don’t know how we can draw near to God without fear, but we also know that “perfect love casts out fear.” Think about it. If you’ve ever had one close relationship in which you felt totally safe to be you—flaws and all—then you know what that love is like.
There is mercy, especially when you are honest about your shortcomings. There is also help and encouragement to overcome, and sometimes there is a willingness for the person you love to endure difficulties and even suffering on your behalf. If you truly love the person back, you will not lie to them. You will not take their mercy and forgiveness for granted, and you will take time out for that person to get to know them, do things for them, and make up any wrongs you have committed to the best of your ability.
How much more is this true for us in Jesus Christ?
If we can learn about the sins within the Christian faith and within ourselves individually, and if we love Jesus truthfully, we can come to Him for mercy and I’m certain that we will have it. This is especially true if we seek Him to help us overcome and do our upmost to do better in faith that He will help us and forgive us in any area that is lacking.
We cannot do anything to take away our sin. He did that already, but there should be some response from us once we are made aware of our sins. If there isn’t some measure of honest reflection and contrition, then how can we say that we have faith? How can we say that we love Jesus if we just take the forgiveness for granted, not considering how we do harm to His Name and to our brethren? We would not do that to anyone else that we loved, right?
I think it is good to remember Who we are dealing with. God is love and Jesus is the perfect expression of that love. However, He is to be feared and honored too. God gives mercy to those who fear Him, as the scriptures say.
From what I can tell within the church, and myself also, we need to take the judgement of God seriously. That makes the mercy we need all the more precious, and the faith we have in Jesus all the more worth nurturing as we seek Him so that we can live for Him more fully, see Him working in our lives, and learn to trust in Him.