Chapter 11: Here Come Da Judge
P151 Mack – Taking a deep breath and with his hands outstretched in front of him, he ventured a couple of steps into the inky darkness and stopped. Fear seized him as he tried to breathe, unsure whether or not to continue.
Q: What was Mack afraid of? How did this moment test his faith?
3 He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
P153: Mack – “She is beauty…everything that sensuality strives to be, but falls painfully short.”
Proverbs 8:11 For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
P154: Sophia: In some sense every parent does love their children…but some parents are too broken to love them well and others are barely able to love them at all.
Q: Have you ever experienced this kind of broken love? Do parents today want to befriend or love their children? What’s the difference?
P155: Mack (responding to Sophia’s question about which child he loves the most) Come to think of it, it’s like when Papa says she is especially fond of someone. When I think of each of my children individually, I find that I am especially fond of each one.
1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God !
Sophia: You are wise in the ways of real love, Mackenzie. So many people believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it.
Q: What do you think of Sophia’s statement above? How does this affect us in loving relationships?
P156: Sophia to Mack – You didn’t move beyond your father’s inability (to love you) on your own, it was God and you together who changed you to love this way. And now you love your children much the way Father loves his.
Q: How can God change the way we love? Are we aware of such an influence?
1 John 5:1-2 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
P157: Sophia (in response to Mack’s question about being dead): I am sorry to disappoint you, but you have not fallen asleep in your world….
Mack: This hardly seems fair! Does this happen to other people – getting judged, I mean, before they’re even dead? What if I change? What if I do better the rest of my life? What if I repent? What then?
P158: Sophia – You have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even the motivations of others. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person’s life by the quality of your concept of beauty.
Q: What makes us judge other people? Is it a defensive mechanism? Are our judgments fair and balanced?
Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge , or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
P159: Sophia – tell me, by what criteria do you base your judgments?
Judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge.
P160: Mack – So, who is it that I am supposed to judge?
Sophia: God and the human race.
Q: How often do we judge God’s intentions for the world? How often do we judge God’s intentions for ourselves?
John 8:15-16 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge , my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.
Sophia: Surely there are many people in your world you think deserve judgment. There must be at least a few who are to blame for so much of the pain and suffering? What about the greedy who feed off the poor of the world? What about the ones who sacrifice their young children to war? What about the men who beat their wives?…Don’t they deserve judgment?
P161: Sophia – How far do we go back, Mackenzie? This legacy of brokenness goes all the way back to Adam, what about him? But why stop there? What about God? God started this whole thing. Is God to blame?
Q: Why do we blame God for terrible things that happen in our lives? Would we honestly want Him to interfere in our lives? What would happen to us if God decided to change everything?
Sophia: Isn’t this where you are stuck? Isn’t this what fuels The Great Sadness? That God cannot be trusted? Surely, a father like you can judge the Father?
God knew that one day your Missy would be brutalized, and still he created. And then he allowed that twisted soul to snatch her from your loving arms when he had the power to stop him. Isn’t God to blame, Mackenzie?
Q: Why is Mack so angry with God? Have you ever felt the same way? Why doesn’t God intervene where suffering occurs?
If you are able to judge God so easily, then you can certainly judge the world.
P162: Sophia: God knows every person ever conceived, and he knows them so much deeper and clearer than you will ever know your own children…You believe he will condemn most to an eternity of torment, away from his presence and apart from his love. Is that not true?
Q: Isn’t this what we are taught to believe? Why do we not feel comfortable with this today? Do we think God will change His ways to suit our modern sensitivity?
Romans 3:5-6 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?
Mack – How could God ask him to choose among his own children? There was no way he could sentence Katie, or any of his children, to an eternity in hell just because she had sinned against him.
P163: Mack – Could I go instead? If you need someone to torture for eternity, I’ll go in their place. Would that work? Could I do that?
Sophia: Now you sound like Jesus. You have judged well, Mackenzie. I am proud of you!
Q: What do you think about the above conclusion to the discussion? Would we be willing to sacrifice ourselves for our children? Is this why God sent Jesus into the world?
John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
P 164: Mack – I just don’t understand how God could love Missy and let her go through that horror. She was innocent. She didn’t do anything to deserve that.
Sophia: Your world is severely broken. You demanded your independence, and now you are angry with the one who loved you enough to give it to you.
Q: How does our fierce independence cause suffering in the world? Where have we broken our world with our selfish ways? Why does it trouble us to give up our free spirited ways and submit ourselves to God?
Romans 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Sophia: He chose the way of the cross where mercy triumphs over justice because of love. Would you instead prefer he’s chosen justice for everyone? Do you want justice?
Q: Which would we prefer from God: mercy or justice? What would happen if we only received justice from God?
Jeremiah 10:24-25 Correct me, LORD, but only with justice –not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing. Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name.
P165: Sophia – Papa (God) never needed evil to accomplish his good purposes. It is you humans who have embraced evil and Papa has responded with goodness. What happened to Missy was the work of evil and no one in your world is immune from it.
Q: Why are we not immune from evil? What causes humankind to embrace evil? How does God counter this?
Romans 1:24-25 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen.
P167: Mack (about Missy) – She’s really okay, isn’t she?
Sophia: More than you know. This life is only the anteroom of a greater reality to come. No one reaches their potential in your world. It’s only preparation for what Papa had in mind all along.
Q: What are we being prepared for in this life? Why can we never reach our full potential?
Romans 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
P168: Sophia – if you remember, you were saving your son. Only you, in the entire universe, believe that somehow you’re to blame. Missy doesn’t believe that, nor Nan, nor Papa. Perhaps it’s time to let that go – that lie.
Q: How is Sophia trying to help Mack here? What does she want him to let go?
P169: Sophia – Mackenzie, judgment is not about destruction, but about setting things right.
Q: Why do we often envision judgment as being destructive and not re-constructive? What do you think about Sophia’s statement? How could we put this into practice in the church or in the world?
John 12:47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.