POSTED ON APRIL 25, 2012:
The Location of Justice, Part One
The link between God's judgment and our sense of fairness
It was bad news on Good Friday. Actually, it was worse than bad. It was heinous. Heinous and shaming.
On Good Friday, there was a sequence of shootings in north Tulsa that left three victims dead and two victims injured. Approximately 48 hours after the shooting, in the early hours of Sunday, April 8, two suspects were arrested on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill.
The leader of the task force that led the effort to find the suspects said this was the most heinous crime he had seen in his 24 years with the Tulsa Police Department. Heinous and shaming.
Now, I'm not going to wax about whether or not this was a hate crime or what the level of racial tension is in our city or how this crime ranks in the history of Tulsa. I want to talk about something altogether different.
When things in the world go haywire -- like a shooting spree that leaves people dead or a tornado that demolishes a city or a parent or grandparent on the edge of death -- it leave us with a profound sense of unfairness.
Here's what I mean. We look at the hurt, the suffering and the chaos all around us and we say to ourselves, "This isn't right" or "This isn't how things are supposed to be" or "When, if ever, is this stuff going to end."
Whether we say these things out loud or let them rattle around in our hearts and minds, we are making statements about one thing: justice. We are making declarations about what we believe is right and what we believe is wrong. We are assuming the role of arm-chair philosophers, of judge and jury.
We know things aren't right. We know this is not how things are supposed to be. And there is something that feels unjust in it all.
Where does that sense of right and wrong come from? How do we innately know that this is not how things are supposed to be? C.S. Lewis lets us in on what lies beneath our questions: "How had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? ... in the very act of trying to prove ... the whole of reality was senseless, I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality -- namely my idea of justice -- was full of sense. ... If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning."
Lewis is saying that our sense of justice -- our sense of right and wrong -- comes from somewhere. When we feel injustice rise up within us, we are not just conjuring up these feelings of unfairness. This sentiment has a location -- and it is outside of us. In one of the weightiest passages in the sacred Scriptures, the apostle John reveals the locality of justice.
Revelation 20 unveils a cosmic courtroom. Jesus is perched on the great white throne. And John conveys what he perceives. "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done."
Here in the revelation of John, we see the locale of justice and it isn't the throne itself. It's the One who sits on the throne. The location of justice is found in the righteous judge, Jesus Christ.
See, all will stand before Jesus, and on that day he will make a just and perfect judgment about who we are and what we've done and thought. Everyone. No one gets a pass.
So how are the great white throne judgment and our sense of justice and injustice connected? After all, the idea that our thoughts, words, and deeds will be judged by anyone is tremendously unpopular. But what if what we grasp in Jesus' righteous judgment is the solution to our questions of unfairness?
The Lord's guarantee is that justice will be done. In the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow, Jesus himself says, "... will not God give justice to his elect, who cry out to him day and night?"
The thrust of the parable of the widow is that Jesus will return -- and when he does, he will once and for all make things right. Justice will take place when Jesus returns on his Father's authority to judge the world and to put right all the ills of the world.
The sentiment of injustice that we feel in this world will not go on forever. The blemish of wickedness on our world is impermanent. Injustice will not sully our world open-endedly. One day the Lord will come, and when he does he will come to judge. In doing so, he will right every wrong that has ever been committed.
We needn't worry. Though malevolence seems to reign in our day, the righteous Judge will soon rule over this wickedness with goodness and uprightness.
See, Jesus is the embodiment of all that is good and true and just. From the great white throne will one day flow the remedy for all the evil that has ever occurred in the history of man. One day, justice will roll.
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