A while ago the Red Dwarf comedy series was a popular viewing in our house. The writers had some amazingly original ideas and one that lodged in my memory was the concept of the justice zone. In this room you could do whatever you wanted but every act had immediate consequences. To illustrate, one of the team took a lighter and started to set fire to the sheets on the bed but immediately his clothes on his back started burning!

The concept of judgement does not sit easily with our permissive, easy going, PC, user friendly world. The principle seems to be that freedom is living without consequences, but that was not what Jesus said. He was very clear that this outlook was not the truth; actions do have consequences, maybe not as immediate as in the Justice Zone, but just as certain.

Every so often I tend to re-read the gospels, take in the words of Jesus again, sit on the hillside with the disciples and listen to his words afresh, and in doing so I have been struck again by the clarity with which Jesus handles the issue of judgement.

Here are a few examples of his words:

‘Do to others what you would have them do to you…for with the same measure you use it will be measured to you.’

‘Men will have to give an account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken.’

But on the positive side: ‘…your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High.’

Judgement should not be seen as a negative thing but rather as a putting right what is wrong, seeing justice done by the One who alone knows all the details.

I was called for jury service recently but only had to sit for one case. In the jury room our problem as a jury was that we did not have every last detail of evidence but only that which had been brought out in the courtroom. In contrast, on The Day of Judgement, the Judge who knows us better than we know ourselves will have every detail of information necessary to make a totally accurate judgement, as he knows not only our actions but also our thoughts and motives. 

Now for anyone honest enough to look at their own life and compare it with God’s standard, the outlook seems pretty grim. No way have we lived up to this standard every day of our lives. Do we only have weeping and gnashing of teeth to look forward to? The good news or Gospel, as the Bible puts it, is that the judgement due to us has been taken for us by our saviour Jesus. By accepting his gift of forgiveness we have a clean slate with God, and the power of the Holy Spirit to live a godly life from now on. 

That is good news, and makes judgement an event to look forward to rather than fear. So, let’s live each day with judgement in mind, living so as to receive the rewards our saviour has promised on judgement day.