defining justice

The past couple of worship gatherings @ FaithWorks have really given me a lot to think about. Last week, Mark Baker spoke on why Paul was so upset in his address to the Galatians. There’s for sure a blog post there that needs to be written, but for now I’ll just say that it really spoke to my spiritual upbringing and affirmed some things that I have been thinking for a long time. [You can listen to the sermon here (October 13th); it really was quite good.]

This past Saturday, we were challenged to consider the idea of justice and justification. In our modern, Western understanding of the term, we look at it as a crime and punishment scenario; someone has been wronged, and someone has to pay the price. Hence, we get the typical interpretation of the Gospels wherein we have sinned and Jesus bears the punishment for those sins, setting us free from punishment that we rightuflly deserve. Retributive justice is served. We were encouraged to consider the Hebraic understanding of justice which focuses more on reconciliation. Here, we have a picture of the Good News which involves Jesus’ work on the cross as an intended means of reconciliation between God and His creation.

This got me thinking about the idea of social justice. Rather than painting the oppressors of the world as the bad guys who are wronging their fellow citizens and need to be prosecuted and punished for their misdeeds, perhaps we need to take a more reconciliatory approach to social justice and change in the world. When you get right down to it, regardless of what end of the spectrum you are on in terms of social standing in this world, we are all fellow humans, created in the image of God. I believe that God’s desire is to see us unified and reconciled one to another in peace; we are not to judge or seek to bring one another down, but to embrace the hope and love that was expressed through Christ’s great act of reconciliation on the cross. I think that is a big part of what Jesus was saying when he told us to love our enemies.

Sometimes [well, most times really] I think that this kind of peace may be impossible – can we really expect the rich and the poor, the oppressor and the oppressed, the ‘first’ and the ‘last’ to join together for the purpose of reconciliation and peace in the name of Jesus? Well, why not? Things like this have happened in our world [re: South Africa], and I believe we must hold on to the hope that Jesus’ message can and will come to fruition, on earth as it is in heaven.

Have a good Monday, friends.

[Still reading Everything Must Change, but trying to take my time with it. I am also reading Jayber Crow by the wonderful Wendell Berry, and that is taking up some reading time as well.]

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  1. October 23rd, 2007

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