"For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ", the Bible says. Quite recently, I have heard of this Scripture being quoted with all the appropriate accompanying Ominous Overtone. The Quoter was obviously inferring that all sorts of outward behaviors would be brought under individual scrutiny....one by one by one.
But the Quoter neglected to engage their mind. This person neglected both proper deductive reasoning, as well as the entire redemptive tone of the gospel.
First of all, it is the judgment seat of Christ that we must all appear before. We do not appear before the judgment seat of the law. According to the law, we are all silent and guilty before God. Before the judgment seat of Christ, we are ultimately each evaluated according to whether or not we are sons of God, through Christ Jesus.
Because outside of Christ, no deed done in the body can be evaluated as good - and, once "in Christ", every deed done in the body is evaluated by the standard of love. After all, you can give your body to be burned, and speak with tongues of angels, have all knowlege, or give all your goods away to people needier than you, and all of it be for nought. No reward in it for you at all..."it profits nothing" - I Cor. 13.
And so yes, knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men to put their trust in Christ. They must appear before His judgment seat. Knowing this, we persuade men to receive Christ Jesus. To those who receive Him, to them He gives power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name.
Then, as sons of God, it becomes easy for us to long to be absent from the body and present with the Lord, so that we can appear before His judgment seat and receive our reward for service. We ourselves are sons of God, and of this we are deeply and firmly assured. This is the ultimate inferred context of the judgment seat of Christ, as the concept appears in II Cor. 5.
The other place, in Scripture, that the concept of the judgment seat of Christ occurs is in Romans 14. In this passage, the clear context is one of how we treat our brethren - whether we treat them with sincere respect, or with condescending judgment. "Who do you think you are, you who harshly criticizes a brother? We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."
Our job is to receive one another, as Christ received us. (Greek: accept - draw near to one's heart) The position of Judge is already occupied by Another, One Whose ways are not our ways, and Whose thoughts are so much higher! Our job is to make life in the community of Christ as much a joy for one another as we can. After all - we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
Romans 14, a portion of it, in The Message:
So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture: "As I live and breathe," God says, "every knee will bow before me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God." So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God. Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is.
So let us lose the Ominous Overtone we tend to adopt when taking Scripture out of context, and let us take up our knitting needles and get to work blessing one another.