Tag Archives: Fair

Whose Justice Is It Anyway?

I know a lot of Old Testament Christians.  You know what I am referring to when I say an Old Testament Christian, right?  An Old Testament Christian is one who doesn’t know how to rightly balance The Law and Grace.  The two concepts have never been rightly defined and rightly applied within their own lives.  An Old Testament Christian is one who declares “Kill them all and let God sort them out!” at the most extreme, and those that cry “Good!  I hope they suffer!” at the least extreme.  And to what end?  Do they think their own perceived injuries will be vindicated by the death or suffering of the unrighteous?  Of course they won’t.  If they are looking for justice here on Earth, they are looking in the wrong place.

A lot of these Old Testament Christians will point out that God is a Just and Holy God and that he cannot stand the wicked to be in his presence.  They are quick to point to passages like Psalm 58:9-11 but then do not believe that Romans 3:9-11 somehow refers to them.  And if there are none righteous (and the passage says “no, not one“) then who is there to rejoice at the vengeance of the wicked?

And it is not just Christians that fall into the trap of proclaiming their justice to be the definitive balance between right and wrong.  Here in Baltimore, Maryland this week there were protests over the Freddie Gray incident similar to others held around the United States of America the last several months.  A common rallying theme heard at such protests is “What do we want?  Justice!  When do we want it?  Now!” and all the while the vast, vast majority of those that pick up that cry have never received injury from those they seek vengeance from, nor will they ever receive injury within their lifetimes.  And yet they still demand justice.

Everyone wants Justice.  The problem is, everyone wants their justice (or justice as they perceive it).  When it comes to justice for you or for me or for anyone else, only they are able to judge rightly.  Only they have the right sensibilities to correctly apply justice and to extract the exact amount of payment necessary for the crime.  We all stand around and judge one another seeking justice for those perceived injuries we feel we have received in our lives.

I have had the sheer joy and pleasure of hearing Dr. Ravi Zacharias speak on several occasions.  One of the most profound things I have ever heard him proclaim (and there have been many) is “If there is no God it makes a mockery of justice“.  And it is true.  Where is the justice for those that died in the Nepal Earthquake?  Where is the justice for those wrongfully persecuted and imprisoned?  Where is the justice for those that are born into impoverished and violent conditions?  Any Atheist who holds to a model of justice in this world is a fool.  Their own model should tell them that the chaos within the system will never allow it to be achieved.  And if it were, Whose Justice Would It Be Anyways?  Yours?  Mine?  Or theirs?  I can certainly assure you it will never be “Ours”.

Allow me to illustrate the point this way.  Here in the United States we have an idiom (a saying) that goes “You can’t fight City Hall“.  It is a way of saying that you are going to receive an injustice whether you want it or not and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  I had an Atheist (self acknowledged) boss once tell me (in almost the exact same breath) that (a) I couldn’t fight city hall.  And (b) that he was the fairest boss in the entire company.  And he didn’t even realize the irony of what he was saying when he said it.  The fact is, he was saying that any justice other than his did not matter and since he was the most just (fair) it didn’t matter that you couldn’t fight it because it was totally righteous to begin with.  Because that is exactly what those two sentences put together mean.  He also didn’t realize that just the mere statement of his own self acknowledgement of being the “most fair“, makes him not fair.

No, there is no Justice here in this life.  Oh, there are pockets of Justice here and there.  There are times when things seem right and just.  But there are far more times when we want to cry out for justice and it seems fleeting or escapes us.

What then should our response be here in this life?  My Old Testament friends would point out that we should be like God (at least that is what they mean to say).  But I would point out that we are to be like Jesus Christ.  One might argue that Jesus Christ IS God, and you will get no argument from me on that point.  But Jesus Christ is the expression of God in the form of man (see Philippians 2:7-9) and is the example on how we are to be.  There are some traits of God we will never possess, nor should we, for he alone is God.  But we are to be like Jesus Christ.

And what was Jesus Christ like?  Well consider the time when he was in the Temple teaching (pretty much minding his own business) found in John 8:2-11.  When a woman caught in the very act of adultery (stop and think of the sheer embarrassment of that for a moment) was brought before Jesus Christ, what was his response?  It is found in verse 11, where he says “Neither do I condemn thee:“.  If the God of Heaven and Earth stands before a woman caught in the very act of adultery (which is a violation of the law) and says to her that he does not condemn her, then who are we to seek our irrelevant justice here on Earth?  Please note the last part of Jesus’ sentence to the woman, “go, and sin no more“.  He said “sin no more“.  Jesus Christ recognized that she had sinned.  He realized that she was in the wrong.  And yet there was no condemnation.

That is Grace.  That is God’s Grace.  And that is Grace as only God can deliver it.

Perhaps the world would be a slightly better place if we were to all step back and consider our injustices, and before we seek justice or vengeance ask ourselves the question: Whose Justice Is It Anyway?

Life Isn’t Fair

There is a philosophy of fairness gripping our world today.  Governments speak of inequities that exist between rich and poor, healthy and sick, happy and sad.  The have’s and the have not’s.  It is unnerving to some that so few could have so much and so many could have so little.  They want to right the wrongs, spread the wealth around, and build one great big happy utopia.  It has been tried time and time again through philosophies such as socialism, communism, or collectivist activism.  And each time it has failed.  And yet it is strived for.

The amazing thing to me is that no one ever asks the question as to why the inequities exist in the first place.  If your world view embraces a God you might ask the question as to why God allows some to be rich and some to be poor.  If your world view does not embrace a God you might ask the question as to why we cannot make things equal across the board.  We struggle with the fact that Life just isn’t fair.

Something that might be considered is that if your world view encompasses a God, then he might be the arbitrator of fairness in life.  Perhaps it is God who rewards and who takes away.  And all of our shuffling, and redistribution, and efforts cannot alter the plans of a God.

If your world view does not encompasses a God, then you are fighting the great cosmic entropy and the randomness of the Universe itself is beating down upon your very efforts.  Of course if your world view does not encompass a God, one might ask where your compassion comes from anyway or why you even care.

Either way it is an impossible task and the question then becomes why does it consume us so?

There is one world view that embraces, understands, and works within the great divides in life.  And that world view is the Christian world view.

For me, inequities in life are understandable and are readily worked with.  My world view of a God is not only liberating in this sense, it is also practicable in helping me deal with and change the inequities that touch me on a daily basis.

This is because the very definition of God is infinite in every direction and all encompassing of everything.

Recently I saw the question: why would a perfect God allow bad things to happen to good people?  And the answer was (and is) very plain to me.  Could a God build a perfect world?  Of course he could.  But if he did, where would my choice come in?  Where would my opportunity come from?  Or where would I be tested and proven to be true.

I love the quote of former Congressman J.C. Watts who said his grandmother used to tell him that true character was doing the right thing in the woods when no one else was around to see or to record the events.

The “world” is our woods.  And our “woods” is full of unfairness and challenges.  It is up to each and every one of us to do the right thing even if no one records it.  Why?  Because that is our test of character.

The Marines have a slogan: Do the Right Thing, At the Right Time, For the Right Reason.  If everything were equal across the board, there would be no measure of character, because everyone would always act the same way.

So why would a God allow such a system to exist?  Why would a God test us in such a way?  Well for me it goes back to my God’s infinite nature.  All of the myriad of differences in the world (and indeed the Universe) are all tiny reflections of an infinite God.  They are an expression of who, what, and why he is.  The inequities in life allow God to work.  The system allows God to be God.  Not for himself, God cannot suddenly stop being God, but rather for us.  It allows us to see God for who he truly is.

You see, from my world view, without sickness we would not know healing, without pain we could not know relief, without poverty we could not measure wealth, without suffering we could not measure joy, and without disobedience there could be no Grace.  It is the very antitheses of the system that allows us to see the beauty on the other side.  We make the mistake of believing that we may know beauty without ever having experienced ugliness.  But if all you had ever known in your entire life, from birth, was beauty, and you asked me to describe something other than beauty, how would I do that?  And how would you conceive it?  I contend it would be impossible.  And if the only thing you ever knew in life was beauty, where would your sense of appreciation come from?  And from what standpoint would you experience accomplishment?

No, Life isn’t fair, and I’m afraid you can do everything in your power to change that and you will find that it will always be that way during this age.

Rather than engaging in some vain fight to change something that we cannot, why not take it for what it is?  The opportunity to Do the Right Thing when no one else is around to see you do it.  Literally the opportunity to Do the Right Thing, At the Right Time, For the Right Reason.

If we all did this, we might all just be surprised at the growth of our Character,  and the changes in inequities that it just might effect within our world.