It has been a tumultuous week. Of course, in a very unfortunate way that almost seems normal. Turmoil, discord, confusion, and anarchy appear to be the new normal. That’s the society we live in. Recent headlines only confirm it. We have learned this week that the politically elite are not subject to the same laws as the governed, and dishonesty is an excusable offense so long as one is seeking to protect a reputation. We have again been troubled by the graphic and complicated images of those gunned down by police. We hear of the ways in which truth is being suppressed and efforts are being made to mute and silence religious convictions. We have watched again as those who have sworn to maintain peace have been, in a very calculated manner, executed on the street. Turmoil. Discord. Confusion. Anarchy. It leaves the world crying for justice because, in a very real sense, people see that things are not as they should be.
It’s difficult to know what to say in response. Even as I sit here and let my fingers do my thinking my own mind has tossed and turned and my reflections have taken a new direction. To desire justice is a noble thing. Indeed, it appears to me to be a remnant of the image of God in which we have been created. That’s because God loves justice. My God loves justice. He is “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). It is He who “will execute justice for the needy” (Psalm 140:12). Of him it was confessed “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25). And it is He who has declared “For I the LORD love justice” (Isaiah 61:8). Every voice and conscience crying out against the deafening noise of injustice is testimony that these things are an innate part of who we are and woven into the fabric of our creation as image bearers of the God of Justice.
But I have sometimes wondered if those who weep for justice know what they’re weeping for. I have wondered if those who lift up their voice for justice know what they are lifting their voice up for. I have wondered if those who plead for justice know what they are pleading for. You see, the sword of justice can only come as a double-edged blade cutting down all injustice. The kingdom of justice can only be built upon the rubble of the kingdom of injustice. The conquest of justice can only be achieved by the total destruction of injustice. The dawning light of justice will dispel all the darkness of injustice. The Maranatha of justice comes with the Anathema of injustice. That is significant. Noble as it is, the cry for justice cannot stop at racism. It cannot pause after poverty. It cannot halt with political dishonesty. A sincere demand for justice demands that all injustice be recompensed; and every wrong righted. Do you know what that means–do you really want justice? I suspect many do not.
Why do I say that? Because the ultimate injustice in the universe is that God is not glorified. It is unjust to not give a man his due. It is supremely unjust to not give God His due. It is unjust to not recognize the value and worth of a woman. It is supremely unjust to not recognize the value and worth of God. It is unjust to marginalize any. It is supremely unjust to marginalize God. It is unjust to not pursue the truth. It is supremely unjust to not seek the God of truth. It is unjust to think the life of anyone does not matter. It is supremely unjust to think that the living God does not matter. The ultimate injustice in the universe–the ultimate outrage–is that God is not recognized, worshiped, and honored by all. And Justice demands that He be glorified. Thus any desire and call for justice can only truly terminate in the Triune God.
This was part of the problem for the house of Israel. The Prophet Amos called out against them: “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20). These people, blind to their own sin and rebellion, thought the day of the Lord would be a day of safety and protection. But the Prophet warned that because of their sin and rebellion it would not be a day of rest and protection. The Lord would indeed come, but He would not come as a friend but as a foe.
Likewise, Justice will come. And the nearer He comes the more danger the unjust are in. For when He comes He will only come as an enemy to all injustice–whether on the street, on Capitol Hill, or in the heart. The only safety, protection, rest, and comfort–the only way of escape from the dawning light of God’s justice against injustice, is to find shelter in the shadow of the cross. It was on the cross of Calvary where Christ suffered once for sins “the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18) that God might be the “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). It is there that we stand safe and secure under the protection of the gospel. It is there that we gain the confidence to pray: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like ever-flowing streams” (Amos 5:24). It is there where we have liberty to weep and mourn as those who hate injustice and love justice. But, and may it be a sobering reminder, it is also the cross that serves to demonstrate that the Maranatha of our Lord Jesus Christ–who is our Justice–demands the Anathema of all injustice.