Living with injustice
by Daniel Nalbach
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In a world of people freely committing atrocities, we burn with the desire to affect change. One of the greatest struggles of the believer is that of our own responsibility to action. There is something inside us that resists the idea of all this evil loose in the world we live in. It just doesn't seem right, and something should be done about it.
This is because mankind was created to experience God's attributes, including his wonderful and terrifying characteristic of Justice. We have a longing in our souls to witness holy justice, to savor the glory of our creator in this way. We know that the unjust have no excuse before his judgment, nor the wrath that accompanies the sentencing. None can escape.
Tragically, in our sin and unbelief we wish to sit on the bench with the Judge. The injustice we witness daily gives rise to a personal desire to see punishment doled out in Earthly terms. Despite knowing that a Day of Judgment comes, we yearn to see it realized in the here and now. Seizing his authority for ourselves, we are offended on his behalf and respond as if there are two courts.
Our impatience to witness his judgment is surpassed only by the great irony that we who seek justice are already condemned by it. The great Judge must be just with all. We stand beside those we seek to judge and are equally guilty of sin requiring punishment. The perfect dragnet we take comfort in captures us as well. Any failure to punish the unholiness of sin would result in an unjust Judge, who would no longer be perfectly holy, and unworthy to preside.
In the face of such uncompromising justice, we all need mercy, but if all are accused, who can provide it? Can a man standing condemned with his peers grant mercy on their behalf? No, only a righteous one can intervene. Among mankind only the Son of God is deemed so. Every one else stands accused and condemned in sin. Jesus alone stands innocent, able to petition the Judge. He alone has the power to intercede, by his perfect sacrifice, having already been punished for the crimes of others. It is he that is able to say to the Judge that his punishment has made payment for the one trembling in fear before the throne. Without his intervention on our behalf, the sentence must be carried out eternally to satisfy God's just wrath against the infinite offense of sin.
Now then, if our God accepted punishment already for our crimes against him, how can we demand additional punishment for some, but not ourselves? Can the Judge execute a sentence twice for the same crime? Would he not be unjust in doing so? Punishment is carried out only once, and to ask anything more from the Judge is to dishonor his perfect justice. Are we not hypocrites if we demand justice for other sinners?
What then should we do in the face of evil? The greatest joy of evil is to disguise itself as good. The unveiling of this masquerade is one of the highest callings of God's people. We testify to his glory, and the worthiness of his truth when we expose the lie. To shine the light of truth upon the sin of this world is to confront that sin with the very standard of God that it will be judged against.
The Bible is referred to as the Sword of the Spirit, and is the only weapon we are allowed to wield on behalf of our God. It is not an instrument of destruction, but of glorification. In it's light, sin cannot hide. It is here in the naked exposure of evil and his response to it that he is most glorified. Despite our unworthiness, he stepped off the throne and redeemed us by his own sacrifice. This desire to pour out mercy on us requires that if we want to be like him, we too must seek to pour out mercy on the unworthy.
It is our greatest honor then to intercede on behalf of the sinners around us. We beg for our God's mercy, just as his son has asked for us. In all ways we seek to be like him, glorifying him with our lives when we follow his example. In this we show other sinners a glimpse of the one they will be confronted by in eternity. When we sentence their sin instead of forgiving it, regardless of the crime, they see an unloving God that no one can bear to face.
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