Monday Message: The tension of God and justice

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 
II Peter 3:8-9
 
Talking about justice and God at the same time is always full of tension.  It causes some people to immediately become tense, expecting a heavy handed message of guilt and judgment.  Others immediately go on the offensive, interpreting the injustices of the world as proof that God is either absent or not as good as the Bible would have us believe.
 
In both of these typical responses, we misunderstand God’s heart for justice.  I read a great quote the other day that stated: “God’s justice is actually this much longer arc that stretches all the way to flourishing.”  (You can check out the article here).  This quote mirrors II Peter 3:8-9 in adding two things to the conversation of justice: grace and time.  God’s intention with justice is not punishment.  God’s intention is to bring all people to salvation and flourishing. 
 
Unfortunately, this does not resolve the tension.  It leaves us with two competing feelings.  On one hand, we feel grateful knowing the patience that God has shown us as he draws us to salvation.  On the other hand, we are uncomfortable with the wait. 
 
Everywhere this tension exists in Scripture, God’s people have joined together in prayer and lament.  Out of that prayer and lament, we become agents of justice that mirrors the heart of God.  We seek justice and grace.  We lament with the prophet in Habakkuk 3:2 where he prayed, “…in wrath may you remember mercy.”
 
Jesus, we ask that you would bless us with both your heart and your perspective.  Give us desire for righteousness and justice that is matched by mercy and love.  Where we find ourselves able, teach us to lament in prayer and to restore justice where we are able.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Keenan BarberGod, Justice