Last week, I sent out a Spoonful entitled Same Words, Same Mind, Same Judgment. In that short letter, I dealt with how the mindless, religious adaptation of Paul’s amazing words of spiritual wisdom have perverted his plea for unity into an organization that keeps splitting itself apart. I left off with the statement, “Be prepared to be confused by the simplicity of the answer, for it is Christ!” Of course, I know stuff like that drives some of you absolutely insane, but I did say I would continue. And so here I am back again with more absurdly-good news that will probably cause many to wonder if I’m on some kind of medication! I, on the other hand, will continue to pray that your eyes will be opened more and more to the utter simplicity of Jesus Christ—a simplicity that reveals the true source of our confusion.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians is the part about having the same judgment. The mere mention of God’s judgment can throw a wet blanket over any light-hearted gathering, especially a grace-based group. I know, for I’ve not only had that blanket thrown on me more times than I can count, I also did my fair share of using it to smother the joy of others. Sometimes I was totally oblivious to the stifling effect, probably due to my own fervency in my attempt to be a faithful witness. Other times, I felt it full on. Somewhere along the line, however, I discovered that, through Christ, fear of God’s scrutiny is unfounded. I’m not suggesting that God doesn’t examine us anymore, I’m saying that we have no reason to be afraid of what He might turn up in the process.
And yet many believers still squirm when someone quotes a Bible verse on judgment. If we only knew how counterproductive it was to keep it all at arm’s length, we would find assurance rather than intimidation and condemnation. I suspect many grace teachers downplay or avoid discussions about God’s examination because it seems so contrary to grace. I have to admit, it’s much easier to put all the questions regarding some of the troubling things Jesus said as not relevant because they were spoken before the cross. Nevertheless, we’re still left with many more that clearly reflect an after the cross point of view. Of course, that’s why some will disregard any New Testament writings other than Paul’s. Maybe that’s why his many references to God’s judgment shake our confidence.
For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:4
Instead of letting the last phrase of that verse shake your confidence, consider how the whole thing fits together. What I’m saying is that Paul’s preposterous claim of ignorance regarding anything that could be held against him hangs upon his knowing that God does the examining. And he had determined to know nothing among them except Christ, and him crucified. Please tell me you hear the incredible meaning of the same judgment he desired for them to share in.
Once again, I will continue!