In the famous children’s novel, Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is an interesting character. Overseeing the kingdom with the King of Hearts, she changes from pleasant to enraged every other minute. At the slightest offense, she shouts, “Off with their heads!” It seems ordering executions is one of her hobbies. However, as the story goes, very few were actually beheaded. The kind King of Hearts quietly pardoned many of his subjects while his foul-tempered wife wasn’t looking.
This story makes me wonder about how people see God. Do they view Him as a quick-to-judge King who enjoys shelling out punishment like the Queen of Hearts? Or do they see Him as the kind King of Hearts pardoning the offenses of His subjects?
The Apostle Paul asked, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4, NLT).
It’s hard to determine exactly how people form their opinion of God– maybe they had a hard father or a moody mother. In those cases, you can almost understand a misguided view of God since our earthly parents are sometimes the only example we have– right or wrong.
When I was growing up, I had a friend who was raised in a very strict Christian home. She often wanted to spend the night at my house because our rules were quite different and she could do what she wanted without consequence. Years later, when we were in college and I had become a Christian, we bumped into each other and I was very excited to share my new-found faith with her. To my surprise, she had abandoned her beliefs. She explained that if God was as hard as her parents made Him out to be, she’d rather spend this lifetime enjoying herself. I didn’t know the harsh “God” she spoke of, so I left our conversation very sad.
The God I met and fell in love with was a King of Hearts. Despite all my failures and extreme sins, He pardoned me. And the more realization I had of how much He actually pardoned, the more I loved Him and wanted to serve Him.
“[When] we were foolish and disobedient, we were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But when God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:3-5).
If I were to compare someone to the Queen of Hearts, it sure wouldn’t be God. I’ve yet to hear Him say, “Off with their heads!” His kindness is generous and His love is unfailing.
“God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
However, if I were to reject His kindness and remain hard-hearted, there would come a day when instead of standing before the King of Hearts, I would have to give an account before the Judge of Hearts. And in His righteous judgment, He would have to declare me guilty and cast me from His presence. What a sad day that would be! Some have said, “If God is so kind, then why would He send people to hell?” These are mistaken… Because God is kind, He provided a way for people to AVOID hell and eternal separation from Him. He is the King of Hearts and “…with undeserved kindness, He declares that we [who put our trust in Him now] to be righteous. And He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty of our sins” (Romans 3:24).
There was a penalty. But there was also a payment. When the order should have been, “Off with their heads!” –a new and superior order was made: “Restore them to Me!” The King spoke it, and the Word was fulfilled. Not based on anything we have or have not done, His grace covers a multitude of sin.
“For if we are saved by God’s kindness, then it is not by our good works. For in that case, God’s wonderful kindness would not be what it really is — free and undeserved” (Romans 11:6).