Romans 2:1 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”
Paul has just finished a long list of sins and dishonorable passions.
Last time we asked, “What is that thing, in all those things, that we all practice, to which God has ‘handed us over’—what is the dishonorable passion?”
I suggested that it must have something to do with that tree in the middle of that garden, that thing on the tree, and all humanity at its base.
It portrays two desires, two passions, two judgments:
Our desire to take knowledge of the good and God’s desire to make us good.
Our passion to take the Life of God and Christ’s passion to give us his own Life.
Our judgment to crucify Christ and God’s judgment to give himself to us.
Romans 2:2 “We know that the Judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things;” [that’s us].
“Do you think you will escape the judgment of God, by judging others?” asks Paul
“Do you despise the riches of his kindness, not know that his kindness leads you to repentance?” asks Paul.
“Because of your non-repenting heart, you are storing up wrath for the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
What is the Righteous Judgment of God?
We seem to assume that God will judge as we have judged: Some will win, because others will lose, and heaven is the reward for winning the game.
We assume that the reward for winning the game is to stop playing the game, which reveals that we don’t enjoy playing the game.
“There will be tribulations and distress for every human being [“psyche”] who does evil… but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good,” writes Paul.
We’ve all done some evil, and we’ve all at least longed for the good, which is good.
If we take Paul, seriously, it seems that we must all die (that’s tribulation and distress) and we must all rise to the glory, honor, and peace of God.
“Whoever would save his life (psyche), will lose it,” said Jesus. “But whoever would lose his life (psyche) for my sake and the gospel’s, will find it.”
“God shows no partiality,” writes Paul. “For all who have sinned without the law, will perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.”
The law is the knowledge of good and evil written in a book.
And yet that knowledge hangs on a tree in the secret garden of every human heart.
This is revealed: “On that day when… God judges the secrets of men by Jesus the Christ.”
The Judgment of God is Jesus… or, what God does with Jesus… which, in some weird way, must include what we do with Jesus, on “that day.”
The Judgment of God, our Father, is Jesus.
It helps me to remember that I am a father and when it comes to my children, my judgment is fun: fun itself.
When my kids were 2, 5, 7, and 9, our basement was the kingdom of fun.
In the evenings we’d play ball. We didn’t keep score and there were no rules, except “pass the ball.”
On several occasions, my three older children and I would be playing ball, when my two-year-old son would make his way down the stairs. He would see the fun and want the fun, although he didn’t understand the fun. Someone would pass him the ball. He’d be so thrilled with the ball, he’d run with the ball, cradling the ball, until he’d hide with the ball, holding the ball, so no one would take the ball away from him.
Then, I would issue my judgment: “Coleman, it will be more fun if you’d just pass the ball.”
Sometimes we’d “hand him over” to his own desire and leave him in the basement, holding the ball all alone in the corner.
Sometimes I’d enforce my judgment: Take the ball from Coleman and pass it to one of the others. Coleman would cry, and undoubtedly think, “Dad hates me, and he is no fun.”
He didn’t yet know: my judgment is fun: fun, itself.
If I were to promise a reward and threaten with a punishment, what would I say?
If you pass the ball now, I’ll let you hold it forever alone in the basement?
If you don’t pass the ball now, I’ll take it, and give it back, so I can take it again; forever and ever we’ll be passing the ball?
By appealing to his current desires with rewards and punishments, I’d teach him to lust for loneliness and hate the fun that is the game—that is, passing the ball.
From Coleman, I wanted enough faith that he would surrender his judgment to my judgment long enough to experience our joy—compound joy—the fun that is playing the game. I wanted him to lose his psyche and find it, playing the game. And he did.
Faith happens when the children watch the Father pass the ball—even at great cost to himself—pass the ball for “the joy that is set before him.” That joy is every child lost and found in the game, in a state of higher consciousness called “fun.”
Perhaps the One on the tree is everything that’s anything; he is the Word by whom all things are created and sustained; he is the manifest Judgment of the Father.
Perhaps the One on the tree is God himself; if you take him as a possession, you crucify the Christ, but if you receive him as gift and offering thanks, he rises within you.
Perhaps the One on the tree is yourself; if you die to yourself, and surrender to the judgment of your father, you pass the ball and enter life—eternal Life: Fun.
When you read “Judgment of God,” think “fun.”
When you read “faithlessness, unrighteousness, and sin,” think “holding the ball.”
When you read “love, righteousness, and faith,” think “passing the ball.”
When you read “heaven,” think of happy children playing in a basement.
When you read “hell,” think of one child, all alone, clutching a ball to himself in the corner of a basement, while all of heaven waits for him to join the fun.
When you read “repentance,” think of the kindness of our Dad.
“His kindness leads you to repentance,” writes Paul.
He has made himself the ball and is passing himself to you, saying, “This is my body given to you. This is the covenant in my blood. This is my judgment.”
The dishonorable passion is holding the ball to yourself.
The passion of God is passing the ball.
God is Love, and all the children loving is his Life.
If you’re not having fun, ask God “Am I holding the ball?”