No matter how much peace you and I taste in this world, it will not be enough, not nearly enough. The shortfall comes from the fact that we are still living in a broken, disordered world—a place in which children are trafficked for sex and where greed causes financial meltdowns and where politicians grub for power and where we are not all we should be. For perfect peace, we need a reckoning—a true and perfect judgment that will only come, Scripture says, when Christ returns.
The final judgment is that moment when God will say, “Enough!”
Enough chances, enough choices, enough time to turn and do the right thing. What have we done? How have we lived? His judgment will be both a seal and a sentence—a period at the end of our story and a verdict on how well we have lived it.
The last judgment is not something Christians should anticipate with terror. Instead, we should welcome it. As N. T. Wright observes, “In a world of systematic injustice, bullying, violence, arrogance, and oppression, the thought that there might come a day when the wicked are firmly put in their place and the poor and weak are given their due is the best news there can be.”1
But knowing our own sins and failings, how can we look forward to judgment? Wright points out that future judgment is “good news, first, because the one through whom God’s justice will finally sweep the world is not a hardhearted, arrogant, or vengeful tyrant but rather the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief; the Jesus who loved sinners and died for them; the Messiah who took the world’s judgment upon himself on the cross.”2
Meanwhile, as people who have tasted God’s mercy, we are called to spread the Good News while there is time for people to respond. Then, when judgment comes, they will, instead, find mercy.
- N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2008), 137.
- Ibid., 141.