Monthly Archives: June 2018

Loving Justice

Most all of us love Justice.  Its a love we developed in childhood.  Especially if we had siblings.  Having four kids now, I am deeply familiar with this.  “That’s not fair!” is a common refrain.  Who got more treat, less chores, or any other inJustice is a big deal.

Ever get pulled over and fumed because someone else passed you earlier going much faster than what you are now in trouble for?  Ever even try to tell the officer that?   When you’re late and in a hurry, you are hoping no police are around.  When the guy behind you is in the same hurry and finally blows by you on the straight-away, you are praying for a police car up ahead, and if you then go by the guy stopped, you cheer a little inside (at least!)

We love justice….when it benefits us.
But we also love mercy, when justice falls on us.

You want the cop to let you off with a warning, you are not upset that you got less chores or more ice cream then your sibling.

That is our problem, especially in today’s partisan and angry society.  Many scream for justice as long as that justice does not fall on them.

God gives us a very very different perspective that as Christians, especially in our current American society, we would do well to dwell on strongly.
You are a cosmic criminal, and God, rather than mete out Justice upon you, showered you with Mercy and then threw in Grace as well.
We know this theologically, but we tend to forget it on Tuesday when we are on Facebook or talking with friends.  Jesus was very clear that after He has been willing to deal with us through Mercy rather than Justice, allowing Himself to (very unfairly) take the hit for our wrongdoing, that we should never forget that by setting aside mercy and pounding on Justice for others.
In fact, His warnings against doing that are STARK.  He told a story of a person who after being shown great mercy and forgiveness, was not forgiving himself.  The story doesn’t end well for that person at all.  Also, there is this,

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
(James 2:13)

As a result of our love for Justice, we will always readily for cry out for it when we are right and others are wrong.  Let’s not forget that while, on any one issue here on earth, you might be right,  in God’s eyes, you are a big pile of wrong and He was shown you mercy.  Let’s remember that each day.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
(John 3:17)

When Jesus Wore Shoes

One of the things God has been teaching me in the last few years is a deeper understanding of what it means to be “Christ-like”.  To live and embody His heart, His actions and motivations.

That has caused me to think more about shoes.  The old expression of compassion and understanding encourages us to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”  This is what Jesus did and its an important, crucial part of our theology.  Jesus BECAME man.  His name becomes Immanuel, God WITH us.  The Bible makes it clear that this identification with us is part of why He can be our Savior.

  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
(Hebrews 2:17-18)

Jesus doesn’t merely offer salvation and instructions for how we can get to heaven, He comes and lives our situation.  He wore our shoes.

As American Christians, we now can get pretty excised about how people live their lives, especially people who’s lives are SO different from us.  People from away.  And we find it easy to condemn them.

But have we tried to think about what life looks like in their shoes?

When we’ve made trips to the Dominican Republic, we’ve had situations where one of our team has held a baby for a minute only to find that the mother has left.  Why would she do such a terrible thing.  Obviously someone who is a terrible parent and doesn’t love her child.

Except that its the opposite.  Facing poverty, hunger, disease, and no hope for a change of status, these mothers hope beyond hope that this American will take their child and offer them hope, a life.

I can’t imagine giving my child away.  Why?  Because I am a superior human being?  No, but because I have never lived in abject poverty.  I have never lived in a country and situation where I have NO options, NO help, and NO real hope.  Most all of us sitting comfortably in America can’t fathom not having any way to improve our situation or keep our kids safe.

We have never stood in their shoes, and so we easily and proudly condemn desperate parents and judge them as inferior parents and human beings deserving of blame.

The issues facing our nation today are very complex and there are no easy answers.  There are also plenty of people who seek to exploit others.

But before we rush to condemn someone, let’s try on their shoes first and honestly consider what we would do in their shoes.

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
(1 John 3:16-18)