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“keep us from just singing, move us into action…” -tim hughes

April 15, 2008

i was thinking, as i often am caught doing, about the idea of justice. trying to wrap my head and my heart around the truth behind it. the word itself. and then the ideal behind and beyond that word. then i tried to brainstorm all the words that are commonly linked to “justice”. this is what i came up with (in no particular order of importance): david (ok, that’s a joke), blind, lady, court, judge, equality, fair, balances, scales, power, abuse, punishment, God, objective, honesty, morals, retribution, the list went on a bit, but you get the point. the word “equality” really stuck out to me, so i thought on that one for a while. then i thought of the “lady justice” depiction used in most courtrooms. as i looked at different pictures of paintings and sculptures and images of this famous woman, i noticed one thing in particular- the scales she held. they are balanced equally. one is not towering over the other. and so, i thought about the idea that justice is truly the evening out of the scales, the balance and equality of separate sides. 

as i looked back at my first list, i noticed the words retribution and punishment and the like on it. maybe that’s not what justice is. maybe it is… but maybe not completely. when i think of the term “brought to justice” punishment is immediately indicated in my head. but, when i see the hurting and broken people of the city God has called me to, i can’t help but wonder if justice is about evening things a bit. 

i heard francis chan speak the other day. that’s always challenging. but that day he brought me back to this idea. he talked about his church, and how they decided to be each others’ support, to hand their possessions and lives over to each other without a thought. if you need something and i have it, then you have it too. and then i was watching a movie called “cinderella man” for the first time. it takes place during the great depression. there’s a scene of people who have nothing and in the midst of it are folks who are extremely wealthy and have more than everything they could need. 

it just seems to me, at the risk of sounding like a communist, that as the body of Christ, when we have more than we need of something and we see someone who has less than they need of that same thing… that we share. it breaks my heart to see the individuals of our society self-implode. the worst part of it is seeing it happen among the church. in fact, if i’m honest, that’s probably where i see it the most. 

God is a God of justice. and we claim that so conveniently when someone wrongs us. we claim that God will have justice on that person. but i don’t think we’re using that word correctly sometimes. sometimes, i fear, that we’re looking for retribution and depending on God to give it to us. and that’s not who God is. He hasn’t demanded penance for what He did at the cross, why should we expect Him to demand it from those who wrong us? no, God longs for His children to see Him hungry and give Him something to eat, to see Him thirsty and give Him something to drink, to see Him a stranger and to give Him shelter, to visit Him in prison. i can’t help but believe that i’m called to that completely. and i don’t give myself to it NEARLY enough. but i long to. i really do long to. 

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