The Escape Clause

No. 68 - 28th January 2018

I was at the surgery the other day, waiting for an appointment and I noticed a man at the reception desk talking to the receptionist. He had been there for about ten minutes and there was a line of people behind him, waiting their turn. He seemed very relaxed about it all, and when he’d finished his business, he leant against the counter and started into a bit of casual chat. I wasn’t even in the queue but I could still feel myself getting impatient with him. Now I’m not sure whether to talk about his insensitivity or my impatience. I mean, what business was it of mine? Someone once said that “Our human tendency is to be impatient with the person who cannot see the truth that is so plain to me. We must be careful that our impatience is not interpreted as condemnation or rejection”. Well, if I’m honest, at the time there was quite a dollop of condemnation on my part.

Jesus once said, “Do not judge others or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged”. In other words, God is going to judge me by the same standard that I have set for other people. Oh dear. That doesn’t sound good, does it. Because frankly, we tend to judge other people all the time for exactly the same things that we do ourselves.

So if I really believe that, why am I not trembling in my boots? Why am I not afraid of God’s judgement? Well, as I said last week, It’s not the Bible’s intention to leave me feeling utterly condemned. In the first sermon that Jesus preached, he said, “Repent, because the kingdom of God is coming”. There’s that escape clause again. Have you noticed how judges in our own courts come down hardest on the criminals who show no remorse for their crimes. That’s all God is looking for. Repentance is like remorse but with the added dimension of a commitment to let God change my life from now on. The penalty has already been paid by Christ, and I reap the benefit of that forgiveness, by my repentance. What could be more merciful than that?

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