Saturday, 3 February 2007

How seeing God as judge could cause world peace

I've been reading with interest some of the comments and columns following Auckland Anglican Archbishop Richard Randerson's admission of agnosticism.

I particularly enjoyed Keith Rowe's piece on a "chance to renew a sense of God". But I had to pause at this paragraph:

Some want to recapture a sense of God as the all-powerful being whose chief work is that of judge. It is the very image of God that has authored wars, crusades and intolerance.
I see where he's coming from, but I disagree.

What Keith may be drawing on are the times in history when men took themselves to be God's natural agents of judgement, and did really stupid things that had less to do with God and perhaps more to do with the politics of the day.

He's not seeing the other times in history when great good came from people becoming aware of God's judgement. The English revival spearheaded by the Wesley brothers helped prevent a revolution in England like the one in France. The Welsh revival of 1905 had such a powerful effect on society that the police had to form a choir for lack of law enforcement work. The principles of law became internalised, as people met the Source of all truly just laws.

When God is judge, that means I am not. Nor is anyone else on this earth. Yes, there is social responsibility and leadership at all levels of society, but it is all delegated authority. That means there is an element of stewardship - responsibility that goes along with every privilege.

I have had experiences where I have known the utter fear of God. There's no other word for it - it is genuine fear. But it is a fear that liberates as well as convicts. It's very hard to describe unless you've experienced it. And the counterfeit - fear of God as imposed by humans - is truly awful.

Those times when I have experienced the fear of God stay with me. They remind me of my responsibility not just to other people, who can't watch my every move, but to God who chooses to live inside me.

If we really could grasp who God is, the judge and the healer, this world would truly be a better place. But that can only happen one person at a time. And for right now, I guess that one person is me.

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