When we talk about ethnic harmony we often talk a lot about justice. But what exactly is justice?
The answer to that question can vary drastically depending on who you ask. What’s justice to one person might not be justice to another. An extreme example of this would be to look at what ISIS considers justice—cutting off limbs & beheadings—compared to our American views of justice—innocent until proven guilty, serving one’s time for the crime committed, & the potential for restoration.
It’s for this reason we must first recognize that justice cannot truly exist without the existence of God. Justice must have an objective and unchanging standard outside of everything and everyone else that provides us the moral laws by which we determine good & bad, right & wrong. Without this foundation and origin, every notion of justice we have is merely opinion—we would have billions of versions of “justice.”
With, however, God as the origin of everything and the definition of justice Himself, we can seek and understand what justice looks like by seeking His Words on it. For our purposes in the now and in this life we see attributes such as; punishment for harming others (whether they be man, woman, child, different ethnicities, different socioeconomic status, abled or disabled, etc.), punishment for stealing or not honoring an agreement, judges being appointed to seek truth in accusations and deliver a verdict, just to name a few. The Bible even speaks of God hating those who act in contradiction to these. In the same way, when it comes to an ultimate and eternal justice we see the words that we all “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) for which the penalty is separation from God and ultimately death. Here God unequivocally hates sin (that which separates us from Him).
But on the reciprocal of justice in this world we see God speak of using power for servanthood, protection of the weak & marginalized, forgiveness, and loving those we hate—including those who persecute us. And on the opposite of our eternal separation from God and death stands the eternal act of unfathomable love by God in man on a cross and an empty grave.
So how do we reconcile these two seemingly diametric pictures of justice from the same God?
In that one event—the murder of eternally innocent and perfect Jesus and His resurrection—we are given the ultimate example of true justice. The need for punishment but desire for reconciliation, mercy, and love are both satisfied. God in perfect justice does not excuse the wrongs that have separated us from Him, but in perfect loving mercy sends us a Savior to bear the punishment for us so we can be free to choose a relationship with Him for eternity.
In the same way, when we talk about justice in this life we should seek to balance the hatred and punishment of wrongs committed—for the benefit of the victims and in the hope of altered behavior by the perpetrator and society overall—with the need and desire for mercy, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation—without which we would all be hopelessly condemned.
So what exactly is justice?
Justice is the alignment with moral laws based ultimately in the righteousness (eternal rightness, perfection, excellence) of God and all that it encompasses—judgment & forgiveness, punishment & freedom, hate & love, justice & mercy—in the pursuit of a free and flourishing world.
This is what we seek.
Well, those are my remARCs. I hope they in some way, big or small, might have resonated with you. Whether it made you laugh, cry (I hope not too much), smile, or maybe think about life from a different perspective, I hope you take something away from this article that makes your day even the slightest bit better. I’d love to hear your remARCs as well. Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment on the My RemARCs Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages… unless you hated it. In which case, why are you even still reading this? Hope to see you back here soon. Until then, be well and live remARCably.