1 Peter 1:17-19

'And remember that your heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites when he judges. He will judge you with perfect justice for everything you do; so act in reverent fear of him from now on until you get to heaven. God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver as you very well know. But he paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.'
1 Peter 1:17-19
A young man had stolen equipment from a local electronics store and was standing in court to receive the punishment due him. The lawyer had carefully and skillfully questioned him, attempting to lead the judge to a favorable decision on the boy’s behalf. Finally, the judge banged his gavel, and declared the verdict and the penalty; a very large sum of money. The young defendant slumped in his chair and began to quietly weep. Surprisingly, the judge then began to remove his robe. A hush came over the courtroom with all eyes fixed on the judge. Stepping down from the bench, he walked to the clerk and presented him with a check from his pocket. The judge then turned, walked over to the boy, and placing his arm around his shoulder, quietly said, ‘let’s go home son’.

It can be difficult to mesh the concept of God as our Father and also as our Judge. We might be able to think of God as our loving, caring heavenly Father who accepts us as we are and loves us in spite of our messes, confusion, and sin, or we may have developed a concept of God that portrays him as an angry, vengeful judge just waiting for us to sin and then delighting in serving us punishment. Our religious background can certainly influence both our understanding and feelings about God, and the character and behavior of our earthly fathers also may contribute to our vision of our heavenly Father. It can be very complicated.

Peter gives us clarity by mentioning God’s perfect justice. No earthly father can claim this. Our fathers may have tried to carefully and intentionally parent and love us, but perfection is impossible. God’s justice is never a result of a bad day, or a lack of sleep, and no factor outside himself ever come to bear on his attitude or actions toward us. Peter commands us to act in fear until we transition from this earth. Perhaps reverence is the word that rings true to us. Peter is not saying that we must be intentional about our actions to earn God’s favor out of fear, but rather because of Jesus, we already have his favor and we can be free from living a life of futility.

This is grace to us that we have a God who is both Father and Judge. One who is all loving, all the time, while at the same time his justice is never skewed by anything outside himself. Because of our Father and Judge we can live lives of intention and obedience and when we don’t, and sin creeps in, our Judge is our Father who paid it all and still draws us to himself.
Questions for reflection:
  1. Do you think of God more as a Father or as a Judge? Has your view of God changed?
  2. Why do you think it could be harmful to only see one side of God?
Linda Miller | Ministry Development

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