Churches often obsess about sexual preferences and social control, bringing the idea of 'sin' into disrepute. Yet there are actions and activities which are clearly evil and for which judgement and an accounting is all too necessary. In recent weeks such actions have been seen in Boston, London and Paris. Less seen are the shadowy figures behind the scenes who fill vulnerable young men with hatred, priming them to cause harm. Seen but often ignored are the media, and the troublemakers, who blame many for the actions of a few, creating a climate of hatred where those who are different live in fear. Evil has consequences and needs to be dealt with.
A distinctively Christian view of judgement emphasises that grace, an opportunity to change, is available to all. We all face the accounting, but we all have the opportunity to turn away from what has been wrong and turn to God, through Jesus, who can make all things right. Jesus once said that we are to be perfect, just as God is perfect. This can be seen as a threat, or an impossible demand, but it can also be seen as a promise. Good will last forever, whilst evil is to be eternally destroyed, and we can become part of the good. Or we can refuse to change and be lost forever, what the Bible calls the 'second death'.
Forgiveness is important but it is taking the opportunity for change which is key to life.
I do think it's important that if God is going to sort out the world, to remake things the way they were supposed to be, then terrorism and abuse, along with the attitudes that lie behind them, have to be dealt with. There is a great deal in this world which is beautiful and good, but there is also much that is ugly and evil. It needs sorting out ... sooner rather than later.
I am told that at one of Caversham's churches yesterday the minister used the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby as an excuse to attack all Muslims: to encourage prejudice, fear and hatred amongst that congregation. There will be a judgement.