Why We Should Be Shocked3
We are close to finishing a sermon series on the Old Testament book of Judges. And despite living in an age where we are exposed to real and staged violence as easily as turning on the TV, I still find myself shocked at what I read in Judges. And I would suggest that's a good thing. We need to be shocked for at least two reasons:
1) We need to know that something is very wrong.
Being outraged or disturbed by the behavior in these stories shows that our hearts have not become so hardened that abuse and violence don't upset us. What happens in these stories is wrong; it is horribly wrong, and our souls should react to that. We should feel a deep heart-cry that objects to all that is broken in the world and that yearns for the day when such things will never exist. We should feel that same heart-cry when we watch the news, when we scroll through our news feed, or when we see a police car racing through the streets. The world is not right, and it cannot be right until God's heavenly kingdom is fully present. And so we pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"
2) We need to see that God triumphs over the wrong in us
Another reason we should be shocked by what we read in Judges is because we need to grasp the extreme measures of God's grace to his people. When we see sin as a little thing, we see God's grace as a little thing. When we see sin in all its horror and ugliness, we see God's grace in greater beauty and power. That's why I've called this sermon series "Portraits in Grace." Each scene from this book shows us the unwavering grace of God at work to overcome the sin of his people.
Why did God not abandon his people when they had so thoroughly and violently abandoned his ways, as the stories of Judges show us? Because his love for them was not based on their obedience but on his own commitment to love them. More than that, he was committed to calling them away from their sin and making them into a kingdom of priests that would honor him before the nations. In Judges, that day seems a long way off. And in our own lives, there are times when the idea that God would make us into holy saints who serve him faithfully seems laughable. But it never depended on us to begin with. It always depends on God's commitment to his good plan for his people. If the events in Judges are not bad enough to derail those plans, then I can trust that God's grace is greater than all my sin.