And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.1 John 4:17 (NLT)
Judgment. It is a concept that many people have pointed to in an attempt to prove how horrible God actually can be. The imagery of the judgment include a god who sends people to eternal torment in the flames of a mythical place called hell. (I say mythical because it doesn’t exist.) Other concepts of this god show him taking pleasure in destroying those he disagrees with. Still others show him as some sort of puppet-master who insists that his human entertainment do exactly as he bids so that he is happy, lest he smite them. In other words, the concept of the judgment is not a good one.
However, as John tells us in our verse today, judgment has nothing to do with torture or joy in misery. Instead, this verse tells us that we can “face him [God] with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” In other words, we don’t need to fear the judgment. Why? Because when we are in a relationship with Jesus, the judgment is in our favor.
The first part of the verse is the key, “as we live in God…” Essentially, this is stating that “when we are involved with God…” It’s the relationship with God that is the key. When we experience Him, talk with Him, spend time with Him on a regular basis, we come to know Him. As we come to know Him, we discover the truth about His nature (love) and His desires for us in this life and the next (He wants only the best for us). It is the depth of our relationship that dictates how we see judgment. If we know Him truly, intimately, we have peace with the judgment because we know Him and He knows us. If we have no relationship with Him, then the concept of an evil god who destroys would be an easy lie to buy.
There are far too many people, Christians included, that live in fear, disgust, hate of God because they don’t understand His nature. We must dispel the myth of an eternal hell. We must reveal the loving nature of God – both in word and action. We must proclaim the truth, and stop spouting opinions and conspiracy theories. In short, we need to represent the love of our Savior so that others may come to know Him.