We live in a skewed world. Remember the news footage of the 2020 Riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin? Our family once lived near Kenosha, a pretty, peaceful town. 30 years later, a demand for justice in Kenosha resulted in mob rule and with an influx of outsiders, a large rabble began burning and looting to the tune of $86 million dollars. How did Kenosha travel from point A to point B, all in the name of “justice”?
Justice has been defined as things “as they should be”. Sadly, our finite viewpoint of things as they should be can be likened to kindergarteners drawing pictures of what they want to be when they grow up. All the drawings of football stars, Instagram models, pop singers, and superheroes feature the young child’s view of life “as it should be”. It is immature, often foolish, easily obtained and frequently selfish.
The Bible has a non-foolish view of justice which flows out of God’s holiness. As humans, we have a desire to pursue justice, and we act on this instinct as believers. But our ability to execute justice is limited. Sin deserves a response—the strongest possible response—but we aren’t able to provide it. As Scripture reveals, there’s only one who can, the one long foretold, the warrior-savior who crushes the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). The work of judgment, God tells us, is not in our hands. It’s in Christ’s hands, for vengeance belongs to the Lord (Rom. 12:19). How good this is. We are frail, fallen, and finite. But Christ is not. He is not limited. He is not powerless. He does all things well. The work of justice flows freely from His holy nature. And we are freed to take great comfort from this truth. The burden of carrying out judgment, and making the world just, does not ultimately fall to us. It falls to Jesus. (Owen Strachan, author of “Reenchanting Humanity: A Theology of Mankind”)
It is easy to water down justice to a system which promises that if we just try hard enough, everyone will be equal, everybody will live in a better society, and all will be fair. Strachan notes that in such as world, “Christ ends up a community organizer with a gift for resistance activism”. I think I prefer to believe God’s truth that Christ is the Holy & Just King, the Only Savior of the World.
Knowing that God’s justice is unstoppable can help those who live in this world’s waiting room. It gives structure to know how Christ-followers are to live. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:18-20). Did you listen to that last part? ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Leave room for God’s justice. He is more than powerful to deal with wrongs. He can be trusted. It is His character.
The Scripture, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom.12:20) was written in a society where enemies of Christianity abounded, injustices flourished, and those not supporting worship of the Emperor were murdered. But heaping “burning coals” of generosity on one’s enemies can produce the greatest work of the Holy Spirit. If you do not believe this, you will always be trying to even the score, seeking our own version of justice. So which do you choose: the mindset of the angry violent mob which burned down much of Kenosha, Wisconsin or trusting in the justice of a holy God?
Additional reading: Deu. 32:4; Psalm 11:7; Psalm 146:6-8; Zechariah 7:9-10; Micah 6:8; Rev. 21:21-27