Communication can be hard. Words and phrases can have multiple meanings, influenced by intent, tone, and motivation. The other day I cracked myself up, I simply quipped, “I’m under grace and not afraid of the law.” That could sound somewhat liberal, a bit open-minded, playing loose and easy with faith, but in this context it was actually said in my very best gunslinger, Miss Kitty voice, and “the law” I was speaking of happened to be the actual cops.
Sometimes it’s good to just keep people guessing. Cheerfully toss in the idea that you’d be quite delighted to just start your prison ministry anytime the Lord calls you too it……
I jest a bit, but I’m quite serious about how here in the land of stoopid, it often seems as if people crave justice so bad, they’ve done lost their minds. We’re like, just spraying justice bullets across the broadside of a barn in a passive aggressive attempt to nail somebody for something. Cat trespassing. A dim license plate bulb. Possession of a plastic bag. Expired car tabs. And soon perhaps, carrying a concealed plastic straw without a permit.
What can I say, people just have a whole lot of first world problems.
Meanwhile, actual crime, like stuff getting stolen, tires being slashed, good luck with any of that. I learned long ago, there really is no justice, a bit of a jaded and cynical view, I’m sure. A lot of people don’t get that concept, but I sure do. That is born of experience, wisdom, and far too much complete powerlessness. Swallowing bitter. Year, after year after year….
Privilege is a real thing in the world, as is power. It’s all cloaked in politics, hyperbole, and people shrieking right now, but yeah, who you are does matter. And who you aren’t means you don’t matter.
In the people world, that is. In God’s world, you matter. You matter so much, He made a tremendous investment in you. And someday, the last shall go first.
In faith it can be really hard to balance concepts around grace, forgiveness, and……why does the rain just keep falling on the wicked in the form of gold coins? Success, fame, power, protection, cover ups? Like, hello! I am the very first one to speak of forgiveness, of grace, of setting one’s own self free of offense, bitterness, resentment, BUT, BUT… justice still matters, how we treat one another still matters, paying for the consequences of our actions, or doing what you can to make it right, still matters.
Sadly in the world today, God’s restorative justice far too often seems to just mean, you need to be more forgiving so we can carry on with business as usual…….
“Justice” is a fascinating word, it kind of defies definition. We equate “just” with “fairness,” but what is “just” and “fair” really just becomes a matter of subjective opinion. You have to have a standard in which to compare and weigh against. It you trace the origins of the word “justice” back even farther, you soon arrive at the Latin and Sanskrit words meaning “right welfare, as it was first intended.” In the bible, Jesus often says things like, “in the beginning it was not so.” These are references to design, to intent, to what did the world look like back in paradise? What enables us to even imagine what should be, if all was actually right with our world?
“As it was first intended,” I love that in the context of Paradise Lost. Why is something wrong? Because it falls short of a place and time we cannot even see, but we know of it, it is hard-wired right into us.
That concept has always fascinated me, the fact that there is something within our souls that just knows, that just wails, this is so not how it was in the beginning, this is just not right, this is not fair. Trust me, in the animal world there are no spiders lamenting the fate of the fly caught in their web and soon to be dinner. People are unique in this sense, we all recognize injustice when we see it. Some of us don’t care, but still the wail of our soul is often about trying to make things “right.”
I’ve lived a lifetime of justice delayed, justice does not apply here, justice is completely futile, so sometimes I forget that in another world, in another place and time, justice really does matter. Justice is a huge part of our faith, and while God is full of grace and mercy, kind, steadfast, infinitely patient, and has certainly blessed me, the bible is also full of many examples of God’s justice being a real thing, one people should take quite seriously and not ignore.
Sam Powell did a well worded piece on the sons of Eli, called “When you honor your ministry more than you honor God…” He is speaking mostly of corruption within the church, of abuse scandals, of the unheard cries of victims across well, literally centuries.
I really love me some 1 Corinthians 11:1, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” And also David’s words, “Search my heart, Oh Lord.” Those of us genuinely in faith, are often looking inward, turning to the Lord, taking those words to heart. It’s an active, ongoing process, and there is great wisdom to be found there.
Sometimes I think if we all just did that, we’d be living back in paradise again.