Justice. It’s a big concept. We all want it, but we don’t always know what it looks like. We don’t always recognize it, and sometimes, we fail to see it done. Sometimes the struggle to get it seems hopeless and we are tempted to give up. When we are, we need to step back and check our perspective.
There are different types of justice. There is the justice than men and governments give and there is the justice God gives. One is fallible; one is not. Man’s justice is flawed because we are flawed. We confuse justice with vengeance. A legal system designed to protect the weak sometimes betrays them and protects their abusers. Stories of unjust treatment of others abound. Consider these stories of pastors in Sri Lanka and India.
In Sri Lanka, a pastor, his wife, and other Christians were attacked by an angry mob. When police arrived, the Christians were taken to the police station and questioned for seven hours. Those responsible for the attack were not arrested or questioned. Weeks later at a court hearing, a magistrate reprimanded the police and ordered that those responsible be arrested.
Pastor Samuel is a pastor in India who was arrested in 2004 on false charges. After six years in prison, Pastor Samuel was cleared of all charges, but he remained in jail for another two years before finally being released. He missed eight years of time with his wife and his baby girl. Was it fair? No. Was it just? Certainly not.
How do make sense of it all? By remembering that though man’s justice failed, God’s will not. The wrong done to these men and their families will be paid for. But in remembering this, we must remember one even greater truth.
The punishment for sin–any sin–is separation from God. It’s forever without Him. And every single one of us, including myself, deserve this. We broke the rules. God showed us what to do and we failed. It doesn’t matter if it’s one sin or a million. Look at it this way–if you had a glass of water and someone contaminated it with lethal poison, would it matter if it was one drop or a dozen?
Of course not.
And it doesn’t matter if it’s “just one” sin or “just a small sin.” There is no such thing. Sin poisons our relationship with God and it leads to death.
But what God did about it sets Christianity apart from every other religion on earth. Many religions agree that human beings are flawed. All but Christianity require that we fix the situation ourselves, that we work it off, that we pay for what we’ve done. Only God knows that this is futile. We can’t make it right. We can’t neutralize the poison.
So what did He do? He could not stand the thought of us, His children, His creation being separated from Him by sin forever. But sin leads to death. Someone had to neutralize the poison. Only perfection could accomplish this, and since His children couldn’t do it, He stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ and did it for us. He drank the poisoned water. He took our sin to the cross and suffered the cruelest death evil could give. But He didn’t stop there. He took the full punishment, separation from God Himself. And when He did, justice was served. Sin was paid for.
Thank God the story doesn’t end there! Because Jesus was perfect and paid fully for our sins, He returned to life, conquering death and sin once and for all.
The pastors in the above stories know this. They know that they deserved to die but that Jesus died in their place. They know that those who have mistreated them and caused them so much pain and heartache need to know this as well.
While we are here on earth, we must do what we can to defend justice and seek it for those who are mistreated. God commands us to do so. But whether we see man’s justice fulfilled or not, we must remember that God’s justice will be. The sins done against us will be paid for. Let us pray that those who commit them will accept the payment God has already provided by asking Him to justify their hearts and apply His grace and His death and resurrection to their hearts. Then one day we can thank God together.