Saturday, March 27, 2010

Love Is At The Heart Of Justice

I was flipping stations on the car radio when I came across some fire and brimstone preaching.  The preacher was railing about what sinners we all are.  We are so steeped in sin that god can't stand to look at us. It makes god so angry that his wrath smolders like embers.  He finished it off by yelling, "We shouldn't ask how does a loving god send people to Hell?!  We should ask, How does a just god not send us there now?!"

That kind of preaching is fundamentalist boilerplate. I was actually surprised that preachers are still using that line. But it does say a lot about how this preacher interprets sin and justice; and I believe his interpretation is the opposite of the heart of God.

As my wife and I drove home from the symphony this evening, she told me of an incident that happened between our children today. The two of them usually get along pretty well, in fact I would say that they enjoy each other's company. They like to play together. Today though, there were some harsh words said and it left one of my children hurt and broken hearted.

As my wife told me the story, I felt my heart slowly sinking. I ached for my child that was hurt. But I was also hurting for the one who said the words. Contentment and happiness are hard to find with words like that embedded inside, ready for use. It crushed me that those words could be said. I hope for so much more.

I wasn't angry, I wasn't wrathful. No one had to step between me and my child to prevent me from doing them harm. Justice is not taking vengeance out on one of my children. My desire for justice is a desire to put things right. That things would be as they should be. That my children would be in a loving, happy relationship.  That is when justice is fulfilled.

I think the heart of God broke as he listened to the preacher speak harsh, untrue words to his brothers and sisters.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Nice new blog look too.


curmudgeon said...

Where did you find the gadget at the bottom of your comments?

Oh then post was great as well. I think that it is just that... love ... that prevents us from doing harm and makes us feel so bad when we have. When I go off on my rants I am concerned about the impact both positive and negative.

OneSmallStep said...

Part of the problem I see with evangelical Christianity is that justice is seen as a negative. God is just, and so must give us what we deserve. Jesus stepped in to satisfy justice. Justice tells us how horrible we are, and what our destination should be. Justice tells us what we don't deserve. Justice is something we're so grateful that we've escaped through our free gift in Jesus.

Yet, justice should be a good thing. Who doesn't want to live in a just society? One where people aren't exploited, where people are free, respected? Where victims can seek help? Justice cares about the weak, the helpless, the victims.

But in evangelical Christianity, there are no victims. There is no compassionate justice.

Don said...

Nice (Fatherly) post, Andrew. Amen to that!

Andrew said... is the share button that is there. There are instructions on how to insert the code, let me know if ya get stuck.

Kay said...

Your use of your kids situation makes the both/and nature of love/justice so clear. I wish more could see that.

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