I was praying and meditating this morning around the concept of justice both in my life and in the community at large. I pray for my community and the world at large, for I believe in prayer and I live in this world. To not pray nor attempt to lead seems irresponsible, given the challenges now facing our nation.
However, this morning’s prayers were somewhat selfishly motivated, a desire to see justice in a matter pressing within my own life. Yet, when I cry out for justice toward me by others, I am often confronted with my own waywardness and realize that justice is not what I want for me personally, but the grace to live righteously!
Love always seeks after grace, not only for one’s self, but for others; yet, love does not overlook unrighteousness any more than a parent condones misbehavior as a means of demonstrating love. Love is a balance of mercy, grace and justice. The purpose of justice is to bring one to righteousness, which then justifies and restores them to the glory for which man was created. We were all created equal and in God’s image, and should shine with a radiance demonstrative of that loving Being.
That hardly seems where this globe is headed, given the hatred, bloodshed, political dishonesty, greed and bigotry of our current culture.
There seems a growing chasm in the understanding of justice, as lifestyles become more promiscuous and divergent from the traditional mores that have grounded our culture, though each demands a justice that condones their behavior. I perhaps have bought into that somewhat, for I am feeling a tinge of judgmental thought in my writings, the very opposite of my intent. I just needed to process my thoughts and a fear that the word justice has come to mean no more than the right to do as I please, regardless of the human condition and generational demise created by that attitude.
Tragically, the logic that would otherwise lead us to a more righteous understanding of justice is marred by the history of our injustices. The years of bigotry and literal trade of human flesh for the sake of the economy of this and other countries may have come home to bite us in the globe, as enhanced literacy and technology further expose our sins to the masses? We justified slavery in the name of God while men of faith remained silent for centuries. Yet, when the likes of Martin Luther King brought a fresh word to our hearts, we acknowledged their righteous stand for political reasons only; then, continued to justify rank capitalism, upon the backs of those same poor and disenfranchised for which they spoke. Sin is subtle and when allowed to go unrecognized for what it is, soon leavens the whole lump, silently eroding the freedom, joy and even sanity that righteousness would otherwise restore.
My growing love for people and the ache in my heart for even how love is now misunderstood is perplexing at times. That perplexity seems even more compounded by the judgmental and cynical attitude displayed by those who carry the Name of our Lord, though demanding that they too be protected from the impact of sins condoned within their own families. Meanwhile, those who disregard the sanctity of love, live into desires that righteousness would seem to otherwise restrict. I say this with total openness to what God might be doing on this globe. I frankly don’t understand; thus my prayers.
As I prayed, it seemed that some sense of revelation and relief was achieved as I further considered my own life and waywardness. If when I failed at following the example of Christ, cried out for mercy and found grace- a way out of my peril, was that justice?
How can mercy be just for this sinner, when grace for the same seems to evade those around me? If my definition of sin is the lack of righteousness, then the only way beyond justice and into justification would seem to require that some external righteousness be employed?
Believe it or not, at times Wikipedia makes more sense than many a sermon: “Imputed righteousness is a concept in Christian theology that proposes that the “righteousness of Christ … is imputed to [believers] — that is, treated as if it were theirs through faith.” It is on the basis of this “alien” (i.e. from the outside) righteousness that God accepts humans. This acceptance is also referred to as justification. Thus this doctrine is practically synonymous with justification by faith.”
The Biblical difference in a Christian and a sinner may have little to do with their sins and much more to do with the grace of the God who “justifies” them when, by grace, they open their hearts to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He certainly demonstrated a much more just love, as he freed the harlot that religion would otherwise stone, opening a way for an abundance of righteousness to occupy our lives by His Spirit.
All of us have sinned and sin is sin, without category; thus whether sawdust or plank, it diminishes our vision and impairs our ability to reflect the glory of God. We were designed to shine like the firmament! Leaving us in our sin was unacceptable to a loving Father, who then offered a remedy through a crucified Son; defying sin, He substituted the gift of grace. That is the Good News!
When we recognize our sins, neither too small to matter nor too large to be forgiven, grace is ever present from a God who is love. It is our response to that grace, whether hourly or as often as sin is revealed, that matters. With each response mercy is present and judgment therefore diminished, as hearts are open toward a righteousness freely offered.
It is when righteousness is rejected that judgment follows; yet only sufficient to discipline our senses, opening our hearts to grace and the gift of righteousness. God is love!