Monday, May 3, 2010

I have been thinking a lot lately about justice. The current political climate has really made me question, not my faith, but my association with Christians. I have always been a little peeved about the way Jesus had been portrayed in this country (he apparently hates women, the gay community, the poor, our President, and probably immigrants, too). But all of that irritation has brought me to my whits end this last year. I have come to the conclusion that a wrong sense of justice is probably to blame for all of this hatred coming from the "followers" of Christ (not from Christ himself, as He did go through quite a lot to make sure that as many as would come could be included in His incredible, vast, unfaltering love and grace). You see, as Americans, and as capitalists, justice means each one getting what he deserves. When we bring a man to justice in our legal system, we are ensuring that he receives an equal punishment for his crime. Justice is fairness, and it says that I am owed exactly what I have put out. I worked hard, I should receive the fruits of my labor. I did something wrong, I must pay the consequences. This idea of justice is so strong that we are actually seeing people who call themselves Christians crying out for justice proclaiming, "NO! I WILL NOT LET MY JUST REWARDS GO TO THOSE WHO DO NOT DESERVE IT! I am certainly not going to let some lazy so and so have something he did not work for like I did." This kind of sentiment is to be expected from those who have never experienced the grace of the King, but from those who have "tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God," it is shocking; it is despicable. I hate to be the bearer of good news here, but our entire belief system is centered on the amazing fact that we are not going to get what we deserve. If you sit for a while and really consider it, you find out that if justice is each one getting what he deserves, then our God is not just at all. He found a loophole in His own system, let one man pay all our debt, and called it good. Dude, what the heck, you guys? That is not fair! After all Jesus went through, and to add insult to injury, you can't even pay the guy back. There's nothing you could possibly do that would cover all that he's done for you. Some people would then say, "I paid the debt for you, so just get that back to me whenever you can." But Jesus, knowing we can't ever pay is just like, "Forget it don't even worry about it. Let's just hang out and I can show you how to make the most out of your new debt-free life." And this kind of thinking isn't a new thing for God. Remember back in Israel when he made that rule about the Year of Jubilee when all debts would be forgiven, land would be given back, slaves set free, etc. This wasn't just figurative speech, God was telling his people to relinquish things they had worked hard for every seven years so everyone could start fresh and new. Talk about totally unfair. If I was a landowner back then, I think I might have forgotten to follow that law. Well guess what? So did the Israelites. They never did follow through with that one. Why not? Because it sucks! It's totally unfair. I work really hard for seven years then I have to give up a bunch of stuff? Forget it.

Okay, what I'm getting at here is that clearly, our capitalist american minds have developed a completely wrong idea of what Justice is to God. When I was at ministry school, our Pastor said something that I hopefully will never forget. He (Pastor Bill Johnson) said "The justice of God is reconciliation." When you look over scripture you realize that this really hits the nail on the head. So we fell in the Garden, and everything changed. Ever since the goal has been fixing that rift. He wants to get back together and in terms of his dealings with humanity that has clearly been at the forefront of his thoughts and motivation. I guess that explains why I can't find a single place int he Bible when God is talking about how important it is for me to get ahead in the world and have lots of stuff and be self sufficient at the expense of the poor and down-trodden. The only thing I really find on the subject is when the prophets are letting Israel know why they're about to go through some really bad stuff--because they worshipped idols and they didn't take care of their poor. Wow. If God is judging this country is it because of all the unbelievers doing what unbelievers do? Or is it because of all the believers doing what unbelievers do. I would even venture to suppose that maybe God isn't judging us at all, we are just experiencing the only conclusion that can come when each man considers himself God, his own needs the foremost among men, and his own gain the ultimate and most sacred goal.

I will say that I do agree that government shouldn't be in charge of taking care of the poor. Why should the world have that responsibility? They don't know grace, they aren't in a position to give. It is absolutely the responsibility of the followers of God to take care of people--to love them, provide for them, sacrifice for them. After all, that's the example our Dad set for us. If you really want to be set apart from the world, and start living in the Kingdom, I challenge you, and myself, to set aside the capitalism that you've been indoctrinated with, and start giving sacrificially--giving of your time, your money, your heart, your life, to the heart of God. "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."
Can we please stop putting all of our effort into protesting against what people who don't know God choose to do with their lives? Children in THIS country are going without food and medical care. I would like to protest that fact. I'm gonna stand outside a bunch of churches with signs that say "God hates suffering. Do something about it." Are you aware that when God gave Adam the responsibility to look after the earth in Genesis, that he didn't lose that responsibility after the fall? We're made to be caretakers, people. We can't do that job without the one who owns the property. That's why we have to pray. Give me the tools, show me what to do, help me see true, heavenly justice in this world, Father.