Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How Important Is Justice?

Most of us, at least in America, abhor the idea of injustice. Our minds ring with phrases like, "all were created equal," or, "liberty and justice for all." While everyone is indeed precious in the eyes of the Creator, and while that Creator has expressed His desire to "establish justice in the gate" (Amos 5:15), our insult at perceived injustice can lead to self-centeredness if it becomes misplaced. This is especially true if we seek justice before man instead of justice before God. Our litigious society, which is quick to file lawsuits for misspoken words or unpreventable accidents, readily demonstrates this danger.

In a culture that pursues greed under the banner of justice and defends tolerance of sin behind the shield of freedom and personal liberty one would expect the church to be a beacon of not only true justice but of unmerited love and self-sacrifice. Sadly, this is not always the case as the demand for justice and the expression of personal freedom is exclaimed in many churches at the cost of divinely-motivated love and biblically-based morals. This is seen as abortion doctors are murdered in the name of justice by those proclaiming solidarity with Christ or as sin and morality are redefined in support of civil rights and personal preferences by churches claiming fellowship with God. Maybe, just maybe, the life that seeks to model Christ is the life that endures personal injustice before man while embracing and proclaiming the message of eternal hope and true justice before God.

To illustrate, take a moment to imagine a scene from the first century. Although completely faultless, a man is tried and convicted of a capital offense through the testimony of fabricated witnesses and the presentation of baseless evidence. Appeals are denied and what is perceived by the gathered masses as justice is carried out with vicious efficiency. The punishment is physically brutal and personally demeaning as the convicted man is spat upon, cursed, violated, and abused. There are no injunctions filed by civil liberties organizations, no stays requested by human rights activists, and no pleas by the condemned for mercy or leniency. No lobbyists, no petitions, no rallies, and no lawsuits threatened for wrongful death or email campaigns launched bemoaning the sentence as cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, with no opposition and amidst the applause of the elite members of society, the man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is put to death.

Had Christ been sent to die in 2007 would we cringe at the display of the world's injustice or would we weep at the display of God's precious grace? Had His trial been conducted in America would we spread the word of the violation of Christ's rights and liberties or would we proclaim the purpose of His selfless sacrifice? We are often asked if we would give our life for our Lord, to which, in the safety of religious freedom, we proudly answer, "Yes!" Instead, perhaps we should begin asking: "Are we willing to endure injustice for our Lord?" Christ endured the absolute injustice of the cross so the only possible sacrifice could be made to pay the ultimate price so the unmerited gift of salvation could be presented to all humanity.

To be like Christ is to be willing to put aside your personal rights, liberties, and freedoms for the sake of the eternal soul of your neighbor. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)

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