Growing up, my brother and I were obsessed on everything being fair. Only 22 months a part in age, we seemed to compete in everything and neither of us would tolerate the other getting something extra or having any kind of advantage – that just wouldn’t be right.
If there was one piece of candy to share or one last Twinkie left, one of us would divide it and the other got to chose which have to eat. The idea was that the first sibling, who did the cutting, would try to make the sides as even as possible so that the second sibling wouldn’t claim the bigger “half.”
This innate desire for justice carried over into bedtime. If I got to stay up until 8:30 pm at age 10, then he couldn’t have that bedtime until he was 10 too. We both resented the times when the other was given any special treatment because she was older or he was younger. That really didn’t seem fair.
After college, I took a position teaching some great kids with learning and behavioral disabilities. Most of these kids had even more chips stacked against them as they came from pretty rotten homes. The parents and caregivers who were supposed to fiercely advocate for them, were absent at best, abusive at worst and pretty much incapable of providing the support their children needed.
The time came around for standardized testing. My students were anything but “standard” and the tests were completely unfair. They couldn’t read the questions much less quantify what they were actually learning. Sure, mandated modifications helped some, but expecting these kids to perform to standards that were so far above their capabilities just left them frustrated and defeated. As a teacher, I dreaded that their performance reflected on me. These tests were unfair for the kids and the teachers.
I began to reflect on what would be fair. An individualized test, an administrator or committee evaluation – I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now but something has to be better, to be more fair. Whatever the answer, my idea of justice altered. When we don’t all have the same starting line there has to be adjustments in the race rules to make the finish fair. Justice wouldn’t be justice if it were blind. Justice must take other factors into consideration for it to be fairly served.
These are just a couple of personal experiences that have shaped my view of justice. I have also realized that everyone else also has their own individual idea of what justice looks like. Some of us are more apt to apply grace. Some of us have no merciful tendencies whatsoever. However, regardless of our backgrounds or experiences, we all want to see it applied when it comes to someone else’s wrongs but tend to hope to curry favor when facing our own faults.
In the court of public opinion, most of us subconsciously fill the roles of prosecutor, judge and jury when evaluating current events and sizing up other people. The internet has made it easy to find “experts” to backup our stances and encourage our condemnations. Often our ignorant and biased viewpoints are fed by the way we have surrounded ourselves only with those who share our own skewed perspectives.
Enter Spring 2020.
Justice is more than just a buzz word or a good idea. Literally, people who have never taken a stand for anything are protesting in the streets and demanding our government on all levels to provide it. Whole sections of our population have been awakened to injustices that have gone unacknowledged for generations, while individuals are looking inward for the first time only to face their own ignorances and biases.
We may not be able to agree on the greatness of our country, we can all acknowledge that our government has its flaws. No matter the side of the aisle, or where ya wanna place the blame for these deficiencies, as a Christian, I understand and know that our government will always be flawed because every elected official is human. Every human is a sinner and so our government is messed up. It cannot save us. It is not capable of clearly applying justice.
Only God can.
The Bible describes Him as loving, but also and just as importantly – just. Because of His omnipresence and omnipotence He alone is fit to judge. He sees all and knows all. He is completely impartial, without bias and He knows the motives behind every action and reaction. He makes no mistakes so His justice is never too harsh or too soft. He is fair.
People are unreliable eye-witnesses. People cannot know what someone is thinking, feeling or intending. People have a limited perspective on how and when and why justice should be applied. Even when things seem simple, the Bible makes it clear that He is God and we are not. People are restricted in their idea of justice and in how we carry it out.
He is a good governor. His law is perfect and it shows us where we sin, where we fall short. He has told us that justice for breaking His law demands death.
He sent His Son to die that death in our place. Justice is served through Christ. He doesn’t turn a blind eye to justice by overlooking sin. He deals with it head on. Knowing that we are enslaved to our sin and cannot help ourselves and that justice still demands blood – He sacrificed His Son’s life and blood to secure our salvation, satisfying His justified wrath.
When I reflect on how He has worked justice for me, I am compelled to walk in that justice, fighting for the oppressed and the underdog – those who’s starting line is unfairly placed or their lane has been littered with obstacles. This is why I am passionate about the Right to Life movement and am dedicated to our local crisis pregnancy center, but the unborn are far from the only oppressed and marginalized in our society. Having received justice through Christ, I want others to experience that freedom as well.
While I am actively looking for ways to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), I am taking hope that He is working all things out for good (Romans 8:28) and will finish what He has started (Philippians 1:6) . I may not understand what justice fully is on this side of heaven, but I can trust His word that He will ultimately establish it in eternity. I may think His justice is too slow in coming at times, but I understand that each day He withholds His wrath, is a day of mercy where He is showing immense patience and love for His created children, not wanting any to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
I am not sure what justice looks like in every situation. I am thankful that it isn’t up to me to figure it out or enforce it. I will be His agent and representative working for justice, but overall I will trust Him to bring true justice about. He did so in my salvation. He will do so now too.
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