I’ve been thinking a lot about justice this week, a lot about what it means to want and to seek justice… I think a desire for justice is the natural reaction for someone who has been treated unfairly, but if thats the case, it seems almost certain that what we call justice is really just revenge repackaged.
It seems to me that several ideas dance together to create our loose idea of Justice… Sin, Consequences, Judgement, Mercy, Condemnation and Grace.
For the most part I think our concept of justice has a solid foundation, but, like many of our ideals, has been perverted by our culture. There is a lot of talk in American society about justice. We’ve got the Affirmative Action movement, social justice movements of all kinds, minority rights groups, the list goes on; all of which share the goal of “making up” for the discrimination a minority feels from the majority. I’m not saying people deserve to be discriminated against, and I’m always an advocate of giving a minority a voice, but do we really believe that discriminating against one group will bring justice for another? Is our concept of justice really so small that we believe we can throw around some scholarship money and make up for hundreds of years of various sorts of injustice?
Our entire legal system is usually referred to as “The Justice System”, as if we’ve engineered this machine so perfectly that true justice is as simple as throwing a switch. Our whole lives we are taught that Judge+Jury=Justice.. but I wonder if anyone ever stops to think about the shoes we are trying to fill…
The key to this whole concept is in the idea of Judgement. Justice is the end result of a great deal of accounting, the objective accounting of facts. We know this to be true, this is why we send people to different cities to be put on trial, because we think an “objective” jury will produce justice. The problem is that no human is ever truly objective, God alone has the sort of omnitient vision required to judge the hearts of men. God alone is righteous and holy enough to judge and dispense appropriate condemnation, mercy, or even grace. Scripture is very clear about the fact that God alone is just, that God alone is righteous, that God alone will pass final judgement on men.
It seems to me that our concern shouldn’t be justice, shouldn’t be making up for the offenses of others, but accounting for our own actions.
I have been wronged; should I seek justice and risk getting revenge? or should I embrace the heartache of being trampled and slandered and let Christ sit on the throne of judgement? I guess at the end of the day I would rather be accused of keeping silent before the shearers than speaking against a brother; it’s better to fail to stand up for yourself when you deserve to than to fail to hold your tongue when you should.
Justice is not mine to be had, even if I did somehow deserve it.
The only part of justice I can practice is forgiveness…