We’ve made justice too small.
Within the word and the way we use it we have the correct and general understanding of things made right.
We speak about ‘leaving wrongs done’ to God, for he will ‘make things right’ and we are correct.
It is part of what enables our forgiveness in the face of hurts and harms done to us. Within it we carry an expectation of retribution and recompense; we are glad because those who have done wrong will get it.
Yet, if we were honest, we may believe that God will carry out our vengeance on our behalf.
If we continue to peel back our heart attitude we may find that we believe that God’s justice indicates that all the bad people will hang in hell thank-you very much. And we are glad in an odd sick way of our own. You see, we’ve not yet grasped the depths of God’s justice.
When we say we want justice we are often really saying we want retribution, we want those who have done wrong to be punished.
But what if God making things right means that your perpetrator will be brought to healing and wholeness in the Lord? What if this is the ultimate intention of the heart of God towards all people?
We are glad that Christ carried our sins on the cross, we are not so glad that he carried the sins of the rapist and the murderer on the cross. This somehow seems unfair to us, an injustice even. We forget that God’s ways are higher than our ways.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face. Psalm 89:14
The thing is, we can choose to live by our definition of justice. We can wait on the Lord to make things right in our lives, to restore the wrongs and to exact retribution from those who have harmed us. Or we can choose to live by the fuller definition of justice, where all things are made right but where this includes those who have harmed us.
The one stops short of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the other enters in the Kingdom of God in all it’s glory.
I had a dream earlier this year. In it I knew the name of the teenager who raped me when I was a girl. And in my dream I put my hand on his shoulder and declared deep healing and the touch of the Lord over him. I awoke with indescribable joy and delight. And even though it was a dream I can only say that it was one of the greatest privileges of my life. The joy lasted for days.
We forget that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world. This means that every sin perpetrated against you and I has already been carried at the cross. This means that we can step away from our demands for retribution and recompense and we can extend fullness of healing and God’s plan for making things right.
Will justice need to be brought for the freedom of victims all around the world? Of course.
We must do the hard work in our world of bringing criminal activity to an end. But justice goes far beyond the accountability of wrongdoing, it goes to the heart and soul of what went wrong in the first place.
God is intent on making right what went wrong in the life of a girl made a slave, and God is intent on making right what went wrong in the life the slaveholder. All of us have opportunity of restoration, deep profound restoration, and this is the fullness of justice we are called to uphold and to advocate for all.
So the next time you hear yourself saying, “Yes God will bring justice to him” accompany it with the good-will of healing and restoration deep into the heart and being of that one. For here we participate in the expansive work and heart of our Lord and we participate in
bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.