From Jim O'Brien
June 17, 2016

Hi Friend,

The Judgment of History

Politicians are fond of creating their own legacy. They want to know how future generations will judge them. Maybe it's vanity that makes them overly conscious of what people they have never met nor will ever know think of them.

That seems odd in a way, to be concerned about how people will think of them after they die, as if God will be swayed by a gaggle of historians, each with his own bias. If eternal life is real there must be a God who made us-and it. And if one operates from the presumption of a Creator God, why worry about what men think?

Let's be objective, how aware is the average person of past generations? Most people could not tell you the name of their own great grandfather, and have only a faint awareness of the Pharaoh's of Egypt or even the past presidents of the United States?

And what of evil men like Hitler? Is he worse off in death because history books use him as the yardstick of evil? Both Stalin and Mao, relative contemporaries, murdered more people.

Yet, even Jesus referred to a generation that had long since died as a judge of those still living. To set the stage for Jesus' statement, the fame of his miracles had spread and a group of skeptics asked him to do something to prove he was the Messiah. He had healed the sick and even raised men from the dead so what more could they want? Did they want a side show, sort of like a Barnum and Bailey circus?

Jesus, knowing a supernatural sign would not convince them any more than Pharaoh was convicted by the miracles of Moses responded that "an evil generation seeks after a sign." The men asking were standing in front of the most powerful sign the world had ever seen. The Son of God in the flesh telling them eternal truths and they wanted to see something else! How absurd. "The Queen of the South," he answered "will stand up on judgment day with the men now living. And she will prove that they are guilty. She came from very far away to listen to Solomon's wisdom. And now one who is more important than Solomon is here." (Luke 11:31 NIrV)

Even the men of Nineveh, he continued, "will stand up on judgment day with the people now living. And the Ninevites will prove that those people are guilty. The men of Nineveh turned away from their sins when Jonah preached to them. And now one who is more important than Jonah is here." (verse 32)

So, when the day Jesus talked about, Judgment Day comes, how will 1st Century Christians judge 21st Century Christians? How will Christians who were thrown in prison for naming the name of Christ think of us when they see us? How will 1st Century Christians who were forced to leave Jerusalem, giving up homes and land, leaving everything they had accumulated simply because they were Christians, judge 21st Century Christians?

In truth, many 21st Century Christians have endured persecution. I know several that have lost jobs, family, friends and inheritance. Many have been forced out of churches and congregations for upholding Christian principles. Many have been ostracized by former friends. Considering current trends I suspect the future may not hold promises of improvement.

Yet as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews, "you have not fought to the spilling of your blood."

The irony is that the character of Christianity-and Christians-seems to shine much better during times of trials. The model of our faith is God who became flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As Paul wrote, "Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. He put up with attacks from sinners. So think about him. Then you won't get tired. You won't lose hope." (Hebrews 12:2-4 NIrV)

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien