The mind picture of judgmentwe have in our heads, based on our works, is exactly how many people perceive Christianity. They picture us as trying to be good, and to get enough points to qualify to get into heaven. Our prime reward will only come after we die.
Of course, this is a perversion of the Gospel of Christ – sadly the church has all through history often used this perspective in repressive and manipulative ways. From the Middle Ages, to the Victorian Age, church followers have been instrructed to put up with their poor lot, however pitiful or dreadful, for they will one day get their reward in heaven. A sort of “Pie in the sky when you die.” theology.
Jesus Christ came to earth not to warn us of a frightful future day of awful judgment and to scare or frighten us into keeping the law of God enough, so we can hope when our deeds are laid upon the weighing scales at judgement that we can graduate into heaven. Jesus Christ came to earth , and comes to us now, to change us, through love, to transform our hearts of stone into soft and compassionate hearts of flesh – to love us so much and so deeply that we can only shed deep tears of true repentance. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “We shall share our bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into our home, and cover the naked wherever we encounter them.” Isaiah 58:7
And I do believe that our deepest longing is to be challenged by Jesus, to have our hearts turned from stone into flesh. Our deepest longing is to be made holy. So in this profound sense we can indeed long for judgment. For to be judged by Jesus is to stand before Jesus naked, just as I am, and to allow him to look at us with love, and love us into repentance for our sins, and to receive his loving words of forgiveness – and then to be set free, and even now taste the first fruits of eternal life.