There is a kind of judgment upon evil that is built into the very heart of the universe. Does a criminal ever do evil and get away with it? At times it would seem so. Does a person ever cheat and go away scot free? We would be inclined to believe so. Can we violate any of the commandments and not suffer the consequences? I suppose the newspapers could chalk up a huge tally sheet of those who have done so and end up pretty well.
But there is another tally sheet that must be reckoned with, and that is the scroll of St. Peter. Sin does have its consequences. And somewhere, we believe, it is being tallied. And the built-in consequences begin to take effect right now. You see, nobody hurts a child of God and gets away with it. Nobody, but nobody puts down any of God's loved ones and escapes ... at least not forever.
Sin has two real side effects: 1). It separates a person from God, and 2). It produces effects in the world which can never be changed and taken back. It is like the nail holes in a piece of wood. I can pull out the nail, but I cannot pull out the hole. Sin has its consequences, and I cannot reverse them.
It would be foolish to light a match near gasoline. I might be sorry that I did it and I could apologize to everyone concerned, but I cannot take back the consequences of what I have done. While going at 80 miles an hour, someone could dare me to take my hands off the wheel for five minutes. I could take the dare and count off the seconds, but I cannot prevent the consequences of what I am doing. And my life may well come to an end because of it.
Why then, can we not realize that if we call people names ... or if we expose children to violence and bloodshed, or if we pollute our streams, or if we allow drugs to confuse young minds, that there are terrible consequences? Why is it so hard to realize that moral and spiritual laws have consequences just as real as the physical ones. In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is talking about good and bad people. The bad ones don't see how they are hurting one another, and themselves. On the other hand, the good folks see the hungry and give them food. They see the thirsty and give them drink. They notice the strangers and welcome them, observe the naked and clothe them, see the sick and visit them. They do not reject the prisoners, but go to them. And to these good folks he said, "inherit the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world." (vs. 34)
Here is something foundational. Hatred and evil in our world must eventually fail because it is not built into the foundation. Love, on the other hand, will stand.
Sometimes it is easy to believe that all is lost. People do wrong and never get caught. Evil seems to have its way, and the good get poorer and the righteous seem to get weaker. But just remember: Nobody ... but nobody puts down a child of God and gets away with it. There is judgment built into the very heart of the universe against sin. But there is a kind of grace built into the very heart of God. And thank God, we can be the beneficiaries of it.
Francis Guither, a pastor for 46 years, is the author of seven books. Guither is retired and lives in Quincy at Good Samaritan Home with his wife Katharine. His most recent church was Carthage United Methodist.