After his death there were the usual tributes. One family friend’s comments particularly interested me. The comments were along the line of, “He did some bad things but the good he did canceled out the bad.”
Many people I’ve spoken to over the years have this viewpoint of the justice of God. We all do “bad stuff” but we’re basically good people and as long as you do more good stuff than bad then God will let you into heaven. I find it fascinating that our fuzzy view of a loving God distorts our view of justice.
Imagine the public outcry if our judicial system worked that way. Picture this: someone is convicted of a serious crime. In sentencing the judge says, “I’ve looked at your life and you’ve done a lot of good so I’m letting you go without punishment. Try and be better from now on, there’s a good chap!” There would be media frenzy. The victim’s family and friends would be sobbing, angry, bitter – “why this lack of justice?”
If on a human level we expect justice then why not on a divine level? If good deeds don’t cancel out bad in society why would God operate any differently? God is love and He is also just – and you can’t have one without the other.
Every human being has goodness because we are made in God’s image; but every human being is also imperfect – we have all broken God’s laws and deserve to be punished. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Jesus came and took our punishment for us – the judgment of God placed on Jesus so that all those who accept His sacrifice can go free. That’s the heart of the Christian message – not a message of fuzzy love but a message of love and justice – and an offer that’s really too good to refuse. So why would you?