9-1-17 - Checkin' It Twice

I lean toward the “grace and love” aspects of God as the Scriptures and Jesus describe God’s Realm. Give me eight “parables of the prodigal” for any one “be warned, judgment is coming” passage. Yet, as much as Jesus described God’s Kingdom as a place of unexpected mercy and reordered rankings, he did not shy away from the judgment to come. So he ends this teaching about taking up your cross with the reminder that there will be a reckoning:

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done."

That "repay everyone for what has been done” bit sounds ominous to me. I tend to assume, mostly for neurotic reasons, that the Judgment will go badly for me. Maybe you share that instinct; it is what I call “original shame.” It drives Santa Claus theology – “He’s makin’ a list, checkin’ it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…”

Only it’s not Santa who’s coming to town, but the Son of Man with his angels in the glory of his Father. Who of us can stand before such a entourage? Saint Paul didn’t think he could. 
“Wretched man that I am,” he wrote in Romans, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
And then he answered his own question: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

The great, audacious claim of Christian faith is that the One who comes to judge is the same One who has delivered us from the power of sin and shame. United with Christ, we need fear no reckoning. As Paul goes on to say, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Wow.

No condemnation. And as we breathe that in, and allow this union with Christ to be realized in us, we find ourselves making God-ward choices, moving with the power and love of the Holy Spirit. And then we start to be able to see where Christ is in the world around us.

Our passage ends on a cryptic note. Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
No one quite knows what that means – the next event in Matthew’s Gospel is the Transfiguration, where Peter, James and John see Jesus in his divine glory for a moment. Is that what he meant? Or did he mean the spiritual vision that allows us to see the Son of Man coming all the time?

How does that sentence, “He will repay everyone for what has been done” sit with you?
Do you assume blessing? Then you are already blessed.
Do you assume condemnation or trial? Then spend some time today with Paul’s promise of grace and love, let it work in.

And pray to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that you have the spiritual vision to see what the world does not: the Son of Man coming in his glorious reign, once upon a time, for all time - and right now.

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