Many people grow up believing in a capricious God that passes judgement without warning. These people internalize the feeling “he is gonna get me some day.” This thought & feeling movement is not unlike the natural inclination to see circumstances beyond one’s doing or locus of control, imaging the divine as a distant and arbitrary being. In these circumstances, there is always fear that anytime the axe will fall and decision rendered. As a student of the Bible, I offer an alternative view, arguing the apparent random acts of judgment or negative consequences that befall us are a direct result of our sinful activity–an inherent law of life built into or hard-wired into every person’s life. The iron clad law is that we reap what we sow and this is perfect, divine justice designed and executed by God. This theme arises in the late Johnny Cash’s 2002 hit song, “The Man that Comes Around”
There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won’t be treated all the same
There’ll be a golden ladder reachin’ down
When the man comes around
The key lyric in this song is that “everybody won’t be treated all the same.” To the Biblical novice, this sounds unfair, extreme and unlike the character of the loving Father. Indeed God welcomes all into His Kingdom but remember that not everyone wants to be in the Kingdom of God. Not every human being chooses Jesus Christ (Matt 25:11-12). There are concrete consequences for not choosing to live by faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. There are no exceptions (John 14:6). Therefore, the reason everybody wont be treated all the same is that people make their own choices. This is true freedom and justice and very unlike the human version of justice created by communist espousing believers or left-wing radicals. God entreats all to enter His Kingdom, but the reality is that not all heed his call. Remember the parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matt. 22: 1-14) when those invited to the banquet refused to attend, but God commanded his servants to go out and invite all they met along the way. God does not give up on us. It is humanity that gives upon God and we need to understand this discouraging reality. God is forgiving and patient (Luke 13: 6-9) but that rope of patience, understanding and forgiveness has a limit. That limit is placed by humanity who “are stiff-necked,” stubborn, arrogant, refuse to look at their own sins and prefer to stand on their own pride.