I work occasionally as a parking enforcement officer–a job I started to get myself through college, and have enjoyed so much I probably will never fully quit.
As I write parking tickets, I’ve often encountered angry people and have had to share with them what they’ve done, while still executing justice. I’ve heard every excuse, and one time was nearly killed by a man who had parked over an hour in a 30 minute parking zone and, in rage, attempted to run me over with his truck before the police got involved.
One of the most common excuses is not knowing the rules of the road: “I didn’t know that wasn’t a parking space.”, “I didn’t know I needed a permit in that area.”, “No one told me I couldn’t drive through the bus center.”, and so forth. Some of the people I meet are really nice people who really didn’t know they were in the wrong; more of them are lying (evidenced by the computerized system I carry of every ticket and warning they’ve had in the past). Regardless, it’s the responsibility of those who drive to know the rules of the road (and of parking). It’s my responsibility as parking enforcement officer to judge rightly and execute judgment according to the law.
I say this because many Christians neglect to actively pursue the Lord–even though it’s clear that love (demonstrated through obedience) is the first and foremost commandment. We don’t, in the new covenant, have a rule book to follow as the Jews did; instead, the Holy Spirit writes the law on our hearts and connects us to God so that we can know and walk out His will. Without the pursuit of God through the Holy Spirit (by reading the Bible, dialoguing with the Lord in prayer, connecting with other Christians in fellowship,…) we miss knowing Him. And if we don’t know Him, well, He’ll still have to execute perfect judgment.
The season of God’s mercy is NOW. Right now we’re alive and have the choice whether to learn God’s heart and choose His ways, or whether to drive our lives by our own rules. And while I can give ‘warnings’ to those parked in the wrong spot (the gift of surprise mercy), God’s mercy is only available until we die, after that His judgment can be nothing but Just because He can’t go back on His word.