Injustice. What can we say about injustice? Injustice leaves bitterness in our hearts. A taste of rot in our mouths. It plants seeds of outrage that root deep in hidden parts of our minds and our hearts.
Wrongdoings have the power to make us feel as though we will inwardly explode from the burning, venomous ache for correction and justice to be served.
From that person who cut you off in traffic to the coworker who told a lie and cost you your job, we thirst for consequences that identify, crush and punish wrongs in ways that feel adequate to us.
It’s so natural. To want injustice obliterated. All wrongs made right. It’s also biblical.
tragedy: a universal language
Regardless of what you believe, most of us would agree our world is in bondage of some type of brokenness.
Even more of us can vouch for this brokenness firsthand.
It has so many faces and takes so many different forms:
- The single mother of four who receives the life-threatening diagnosis, a disease she’s never even heard of
- The son whose father taught him about abandonment, and how to do it well
- The child who remembers long nights of molestation, and worse, the false shame that often follows with the daylight
- The girl who purges and binges then purges again in a spiraling attempt to experience some sense of control
I believe this brokenness we face, whatever it looks like, causes us to do one of two things: either we question God’s existence and/or His goodness; or we trust and lean into God, who He says He is and His promise to use the brokenness for good.
All of us face this choice. We’ll endure moments when we’re required to make it. And we all will choose only one.
While it’s difficult to experience this brokenness for ourselves, I recently learned it is equally, if not more, agonizing to watch loved ones suffer. More specifically, suffer unjustly (pay the penalty for the misdeeds of someone else).
Recent experiences led me to realize I have a very fiery opinion about injustice. As a know-it-all and a lover of rules, I can’t stand to witness corruptive acts against people I love and have to sit quietly. Unable to call the evil for what it is.
My natural response to injustice as a human? Well, there’s lot’s of ranting. And raving. I rant and rave; spew hollow, threatless threats and cruel hypotheticals about the wrongdoer out loud.
I wish ill upon them but try to make it sound half-way Christ-like (when there is surely no such thing).Christ doesn’t wish ill on others. On the contrary, He instructs us to pray for our enemies.
I’ve tried disguising my anger and ill wishes under the mask of prayer too, though.
“Dear Lord, I pray for so and so. Please open their eyes to this wrongdoing. Or let them be hit by a bus. If that’s what it takes to teach them a lesson, so be it. Your will be done. Amen.”
Amazing how creative we can get with our sin, isn’t it?
what we all want vs. what we’re called to
I don’t know about you, but what I want most is assurance the injustice is known. That the misdeed will not go unpunished. That God saw what happened. That He knows, and that He cares. And that He’ll do something about it.
This morning in children’s church, the pastor quoted Romans 12:19, “But God says vengeance is HIS. Don’t you think God could do a better job making the wrong right than you could?”
I sat very still amidst the sea of six-year-olds, listening intently, knowing God was using an elementary school lesson to get a point He and I have been working on together the last month or so, across to me.
He continued, “When we don’t forgive that person and hang onto those bad feelings, do you think you can love people the same way? Do you think when you have those angry feelings trapped inside you can love your mom and dad the same way you could before?” No. The answer is no.
Brewing self-gratifying vengeance in our hearts cripples the capacity with which we can love others.
Especially those whose sin cuts pain into our lives the most. And loving others is what we are called to do. Love others, and create disciples of all nations. That is our purpose.
suffering for your faith
It’s a pretty neat thing for Christians to say- “suffer for Christ” and “be persecuted for my faith.” But when it comes to the actual suffering part, reaping joy from it is not as easy as Paul or Peter make it sound.
Now of all the blatant, direct truths in the Bible, one of the easiest to identify is the promise that believers of Christ are guaranteed suffering. The call to follow Christ has never been the call to a prosperous cakewalk.
..to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
-1 THESSALONIANS 3.1-4
Suffering and persecution are part of the deal. They always have been. We are “destined” for it.
…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
And one of my absolute favorite pieces of scripture:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.
-I PETER 4.12-13
Beloved, don’t be surprised when (not if) the horrid suffering arrives for you to endure. Instead, celebrate because you share Christ’s suffering—and His glory WILL be revealed!
the teacup metaphor
When I think of true suffering, I think of what Christ endured on the cross. Louie Giglio at Passion 2014 in Atlanta explained what Jesus did on the cross by using a profound, yet simple metaphor:
Jesus Christ is like a perfect, porcelain china teacup. It is without a scratch and unlike any other.
The wrath of God, the fury and punishment for sin, is like hundreds of millions of concrete stadiums.
What Christ endured on the cross is like taking hundreds of millions of those solid, concrete stadiums and hoisting them billions of miles above the earth then dropping those stadiums on top of the teacup. That is a faint reflection of what is was like for Jesus to bear the appropriate wrath from a holy, fiery, just God.
It wasn’t even that Christ was crushed – He was literally obliterated. Destroyed so completely that there wasn’t anything left. Not even a flake of porcelain to scrape off the ground.
When I think of my perfect, blameless Savior, taking each step toward the cross for me, without a speck of vengeance or hatred in His heart, it makes the thought of praying for and loving other wrongdoers and initiators of injustices against me (an equally lost, guilty, wrongdoer myself) seem easy.
For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
I PETER 2.20-24 (ESV)
I am called to endure suffering like Christ, because no injustice can outdo the injustice Jesus suffered on the cross BECAUSE of me, FOR me.
No injustice we face can outweigh the travesty and injustice Jesus bore on the cross.
Justice is not mine to have. It belongs to my Lord.
We will be wronged in this world. God sees all of these wrongs and claims vengeance for Himself, but also has clear orders for how His followers are to respond.
So what will you do with the tragedy, brokenness and injustice you endure: will you turn toward God, or away?