Justice and “Social Justice”

Justice. Everybody wants justice, but a fella’d be hard-pressed to come up with a consensus as to what is “justice for all” in the current conditions of our world and society. Injustices or perceived injustices are not easy to accept, are they?

From many a perspective, there is little justice in this life.  But “social justice” sure is a common buzzword!

Where does our definition and concept of justice come from to begin with? I dare say that the definition has “evolved” some since it was first implemented by God Himself.

Justice requires that laws are upheld, and appropriate penalties are extracted from the guilty when a violation occurs. However, justice is not the same as vengeance. And I think that is where discrepancy occurs, where human ways and thoughts enter in and muddle things.

It doesn’t come natural for us to view life from an eternal perspective. The temporal is all we have known thus far. Eternity is unfathomable to us, and certainly it seems distant at best. But God knows how our minds work and the tracks they tend to follow. He is able to “allow for” our limitations, and yet He desires to grow our capacity to trust Him with the vast unknowns.

The Lord created this world and mankind with a fully formed plan and purpose in mind, which will be fulfilled. Sin was a consideration in the equation all along, because free will entails choices and options. He chose Israel in Abraham, and down through Isaac and Jacob, and then on down to David, who brought forth from his lineage, Jesus, all with the  intent that Jesus wold die for the sins of this world.

Jesus is God. When Abraham took Isaac up on the altar to slay him in obedience to God, Isaac asked his father where the lamb was, and Abraham said; “He will provide himself a lamb”. What a difference a comma makes.

He will provide Himself, a lamb.

This was both a test and a foreshadowing.

Christ the spotless lamb, without blemish, sinless. He knew sin would bring separation of mankind from Him, and there was no remedy for sin without the shedding of blood. Sin is death. It is a turning away from the Creator and Sustainer and Giver of all life, in infatuation with some aspect of the creation that eclipses love for Him who created and formed it all. And so the law was transgressed and there had to be a penalty.  (The first and foremost law was to love the Lord with all your heart).  Only this is not a penalty in the sense of a contrived sentence, but rather a natural consequence of the violation of spiritual law or principle. Because God is holy and perfect and righteous, the taint of sin cannot coexist with Him in that Holiness. Just as light cannot coexist with darkness, neither can sin coexist with perfect righteousness. A surgical field cannot be both sterile and contaminated. If there is one microbe present, then it is no longer sterile. The two are mutually exclusive.  Death is the absence of life.  Death may seem to conquer life, but in reality,  Breath is the means of infusing life. When God created Adam, he breathed into him the breath of life. That life is carried in the blood. So where sin renders death-the taking of life-the only source of life again is God from whom all life issues forth. His life (in Christ) was laid down willingly for the remission or payment of the penalty or consequence of the sins of mankind, in order that men could be reconciled to Him. The author and source of life itself, willingly laid down His life, it was not forced from Him, but He laid it down, yielding Himself to death which had no power over Him, He gave it up and He descended into not hell, but Paradise, and announced that the penalty had been paid in full, and the long-awaited Messiah had purchased their redemption, and He took them back with Him when He ascended up to the Earth and appeared before the disciples and many others over a period of days. They were witnessed by hundreds of eye-witnesses, both Jesus and these resurrected ones.

I imagine they scattered in search of loved ones or great-grandchildren they had never met, to tell them the amazing story of what had transpired. There in tiny Jerusalem, this miracle took place, while Rome was the sovereign “power” in the world and as far as Rome was concerned, Caesar was god. In fact, all rulers were considered deity. From little old Jerusalem, a stir generated among man, and began to ripple outward. The fledgling church, under the “administration” of a handful of apostles and disciples, was newborn. The apostles and disciples themselves had not fully comprehended the magnitude and scope and meaning of so much that had occurred, and so many things Jesus had said to them, and yet to see Him risen from the dead?

To go from hope of an immediate righteous and just Kingdom, to seeing the Messiah yield to the self-righteous religious leaders and the Roman guards, beaten and killed, laid in a tomb, then to hear the body went missing, only to encounter the resurrected Christ, and then watch Him ascend and disappear into the clouds without them, and leaving them there with a job to carry out, wondering how they were supposed to do it without Him! And then He tells them to tarry until Pentecost, because they will be anointed with “power from on high”, when the Holy Spirit comes upon them all, and they will be His witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth. What an emotional roller coaster!

Agony of grief, astonishment at the news of the missing body and empty tomb after the devastation of watching their beloved master suffer and die, and then after all that, the surreal experience of encountering not only Him alive, but other saints who had died, all walking about the city.

Hope resurrected for that “present Kingdom” once again, only to be further disappointed and confused when He tells them He is going to prepare a place for them, that where He is going, they may come also, as they know “the way”, then watching Him ascend and disappear into the clouds.

It may have been fifty days to Pentecost, but when one is grieving, time is irrelevant. So Pentecost comes, and with it the promised Holy Spirit, and many signs and wonders. And all of them did go on to carry the gospel to the world, and all but perhaps one, died for the gospel. They eventually understood, or maybe they didn’t entirely, yet they recognized they could trust The Lord with all that they did not understand.

And now here we are on the other end of the Church age of Grace. Here we are gazing up just like the disciples, watching for His return and sweating it, as the world we know goes to pieces around us and we wait sometimes nervously, for faith to become sight. A moment of truth is coming, and will we trust? Will He find faith in us when He returns?

It is not about what we are doing but Whom we are trusting. It is not about how over-whelming the forces are that surround us and how things look, but about the fact that God is all-powerful. It is our choice whether we will watch the rising tide and the darkening of the skies, or put our eyes upon Him and keep them there. It is our prerogative whether we will give quarter to fear and doubt, and the anxiety they produce, and concentrate more on the “view outside the window” or choose to leave the “driving” to God and remember we are in His capable hands. Mary chose to sit at His feet while Martha bemoaned her self-perceived obligations and lack of help in carrying them out. Did Jesus ask Martha to feed the assembly?

Peter stepped out of the boat. Like many of us, he wanted (in theory anyway, but did he count the cost?) to “be like Jesus” but was under the mistaken impression that he could have for his own, the power and authority over the laws of nature, which Jesus possessed. It does not work that way. His power always remains His, and the best we can hope for is for Him to make us a fit conduit through which His power and authority passes from time to time, as He carries out His will. It requires willingness, availability, and obedience without hesitation, but inevitably we will make the same mistake Peter did, and get to thinking on our own terms, and thinking His power is our own to do with what we will, and then down we will go, for a good soaking.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Thankfully the Lord is a patient teacher! And He is not slack concerning His promises nor concerning Justice. He is patient, not willing that any should perish, because you see, while it is easy to perceive injustices perpetrated us-ward, we tend to forget the injustices and sins we ourselves commit. Though we are eager to see God (or someone) address the injustices committed against us, we forget that a perfect judge cannot dismiss any transgression. You see, we like to reserve the right to determine the severity of our own sins, while throwing our intent onto the scales to weight things in our favor, and assigning the severity level arbitrarily and unilaterally ourselves. But we certainly don’t afford that same latitude to those who perpetrate their injustices upon us. No!  We want the Lord to throw the proverbial book at them.

Real justice is not subjective. True justice does not allow the slightest deviation from the law to go unaddressed. It’s like not bothering to find that five cents difference between your checkbook register and the bank statement. It isn’t actually balanced if it is not reconciled to the very  last penny.

And so, as we who know the truth, wait on God and His own timing, let us remember the advantage we have in the blessing of having received and loved truth, and therefore we do not operate under the “handicap” of blindness. We have fellowmen stumbling all around us in blindness. Granted some of them are willfully blind but we don’t know who is and who isn’t. Others are trying to make some kind of sense of the developments taking place here on planet Earth. We have answers and all we can do is share them. We can’t make someone understand, and we can’t make someone accept the truth, but what we can do is keep our heads about us in the midst of the panic and chaos.  For the average person who has not utterly rejected God, this will be enough to pique their curiosity and open the door for us to share the gospel.  Peace in the midst of incomprehensible circumstances and trials, is very enticing.  We can have it, and they will want it.

God’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church, still stands. His promise that He will provide food and clothing, still stands. He invites us to trust. We can trust Him to whatever extent we choose to. We can trust Him, but “hedge our bets” with our own efforts, or put some of our trust in the world’s methodologies. The less of our faith we put in Him, the less we will see His provision. He doesn’t force us to let Him take care of us. But we have that option. As for me, I am choosing to trust Him. But don’t think that is because I have a “stronger faith”, nor should you assume that I am being negligent. Storing up excess while others starve, does not honor God and is not faith. The Lord neither called us to eradicate poverty and suffering in this world, nor is He turning a blind eye to those who neglect to help someone in need when they can, in order to keep more for themselves of what God has blessed them with.  It is real easy to lose sight of that perspective, but keeping that perspective is a worthwhile goal to shoot for.  We can’t change much around us, but we always have some control over where we let our mind go.  Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3.  It is one of those conditional promises.  Trust Him, have peace.  Trust Him a little, have a little peace.  You get the idea.

I had a friend say to me yesterday, “see, you have always tried to live a good Christian life, but all this bad stuff has happened to you.  It doesn’t pay off to be a good person”. This is a friend I have prayed for over thirty years, who does not attend church and hasn’t made any public profession of faith, but she is paying attention to my walk and my testimony.  Believe me she has seen me at my worst.  I told her that you can live your life for the Lord to the best of your ability, but there are a lot more people playing for the devil’s team in this world than not.  So that’s just how it is.  It went without saying, that my choice remains in following the Lord.  Our treasures, the “pay off” as she put it, isn’t in this life, and that’s okay with me.  Justice will come to those who have wounded or harmed me, but that is not even a matter to rejoice over.  I am still praying for the kid who burglarized our house a couple of years ago.  Maybe God will have mercy and compassion and send someone to his prison cell with the gospel.

Justice, and the ever-prevalent “social justice” touted by politicians and clergy alike, are not one and the same.

But never mind. The Lord will be along shortly to clear up any and all misconceptions on that score.