Perhaps you’ve heard of Yahawa Wahab recently? Mr. Wahab lives in Malaysia, and he’s looking forward to his day in court: He owes $218 trillion dollars. If Mr. Wahab paid off his debt by one dollar every second of every 24-hour day, he would need 68,770.28 years to pay down his bill–or 1,058 lifetimes with 65 years of earning potential (“How Big is a Trillion?”).
Now, this is through no fault of his own, apparently. He settled a $23 phone bill after his father died in January, but a debt-collection agent contacted Wahab on April 3 with the news that he owed “billions and billions” of dollars (apologies to Carl Sagan) to the phone company. Further, the letter demanded the debt must be settled within 10 days—or legal action would be the consequence. “Legal action,” of course, being weasel-lingo for “Pay up or we’re suing the pants off you.”
When Wahab first opened the letter, he nearly fainted. But now, with innocence and a clean conscience, he’s perfectly ready go to court: “I’m ready to face it. In fact, I can’t wait to face it.”
Let’s just hope he can afford representation because it would not be the same as fighting criminal drug charges in Fresno or a small claims settlement in New York.
• • •
We, too, have an immeasurable debt we cannot pay. But unlike Mr. Wahab, we are not innocent.
Some day each of us will stand before our Creator, and our lives will be measured. Popular theology has it that if you do enough good deeds you’ll get into Heaven, too many sins and you’ll go to Hell. Guess what? Pop theology has it mostly right. People who claim this belief intuitively understand the innate fairness and justice of God’s end-of-life judgment.
What they don’t get—what none of us truly “get”—is that God’s standards and holiness are so exceedingly great that no mortal can meet them. (Writing this—I admit I don’t understand even a glimmer of this reality.) Because of sin, we each owe a debt of disobedience to God that bankrupts our imagination.
God’s righteousness tolerates zero sin. God’s holiness, in fact, is toxic to sin.
God created us for fellowship with him. He created us to enjoy relationship with him, to receive his love, and to reciprocate in kind, as befitted our nature. All that was required of us to enjoy this relationship was obedience. Meet the price, and enjoy long life, a beautiful life-giving garden, unending joy, harmony, and love. Disobey, and the price is death.
Because any sin, no matter how inconsequential to us, cannot survive God’s holiness. His righteousness drives out sin and the corrupted persons who invited sin into their hearts.
Thus, at the end of time, after we have passed the pale and stand before God at his judgment seat, we will each be weighed. Our good and holy deeds, our righteousness, will be weighed against our unholiness, our sin, our evil. If, perhaps, one is found who was perfect from birth, having no imperfections in character or morality, that person might be permitted entrance into eternal fellowship without hesitation.
Unfortunately, none of us are without sin.
And the price for our disobedience and willful self-corruption is eternal banishment from God’s presence—death. Paying the price and remaining in fellowship with God is impossible.
Except for one bright ray of hope in this bleak picture: We have representation! Not only do we have representation, our defense is that our counselor, Jesus himself, paid the the price for our sins himself—and those who accept his counsel benefit.
We all have a monstrous debt that none of us can pay. Fortunately, those who throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ have the best legal defense that no money can buy and we can look forward to the trial, too.
Like Wahab, may we all say “I’m ready to face it. In fact, I can’t wait to face it!”
Source: Man Gets $218 Trillion Phone Bill (Chicago Tribune|AP)
[tags]BlogRodent, theology, heaven, hell, sin, holiness, Pentecostal, death, debt, eternity, judgment, great judgment[/tags]