Monday, April 22, 2013

Is God Love or Is God Just?

When I write about God, I can't help but to write about love... Unconditional, never ending, unfathomable, love. For after all, "God is loving love". 

It's also not uncommon on such posts about the love of God that someone, in one way or another, reminds me that God is ALSO "Just", as if love and God's justice somehow cancel one another out or work against each other or can't exist at the same time.

Especially over the past few days, there has been much talk about "Justice being served". The President has said it numerous times, the phrase is all over social media, and I've over heard it in many conversations.

But somehow I get the feeling that what President Obama is talking about when he says that those responsible will be brought to Justice, and what Jesus speaks of when he says such things as " have neglected the more important matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faithfulness..." are not necessarily the same understandings of Justice.

When we think of Justice, we usually view it through the lens of our judicial system... which says that justice is someone getting what they deserve... an eye for an eye so to speak. And Our current understanding of (retributive) justice usually doesn't leave much room for such things as “mercy”.

So could it be possible that Jesus... (the man who said, "you've heard it said an eye for an eye, but I tell you do not resist an evil person." And then goes into a rant about turning the other cheek, giving more than what is demanded of you, and walking the extra mile)... could be talking about something other than retribution when he talks about justice?

For if we apply our understanding of Justice... then justice was not served when Jesus forgave and set free the woman who was caught in the act of a crime deserving capital punishment. Justice was not served when Jesus invited himself over to Zacchaeus' house to share a meal with the known thief, and justice was definitely not served when Jesus, the one without sin, was killed on a cross in the place of convicted sinners. That's not at all how we have come to understand How justice works.

In fact, the cross goes against every bit of our culture's understanding of what Justice is all about.

So when we speak of God being “Just”, are we truly speaking of the Justice of God, the Justice seen displayed in the life of Jesus, or are we referring to the type of retributive Justice we want to see displayed within our own judicial system?

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