A few days ago, Ann Voskamp posted a guest post from Tim Stafford on her website. You should read it. It will probably strike a chord with you, especially since we're seeing more and more injustice in our everyday world now. Coming through on our radios, on our tvs, in our news feeds...injustice everywhere.
But then a paragraph about halfway down stopped me for a moment and caused me to consider: how often am I dwelling on and complaining about the injustices in the world around me rather than focusing on and teaching how God is a God of justice??
Earlier today, Terri Leigh (our Abstinence Director), Susan Short (of the Children's Policy Council), and I met to discuss the possibility of teaming up to work in our community. It was a good time of brainstorming and hearing from each other as we plan events. Before Terri Leigh got there, Susan and I had some time to just talk, and it was good talk!
I remember saying something along the lines of, "I see all this apathy and ignorance (different from stupidity) in our community around us, and it seems as if people don't want to change - even when we're begging to teach them!" Through the apathy and ignorance, we're, collectively, raising a generation of humans that have suffered countless injustices - and some that will grow up to commit similar injustices on others around them.
It's like when someone misquotes someone else, and I get frustrated. Or when someone teaches the wrong information - knowingly, too. It makes me mad because there seems to be not reverence for the truth. Same deal here: seeing perpetuating injustices makes me irate. And then I remember this paragraph from Stafford's post:
Then somebody said it: “This isn’t the Injustice Bible, it’s the Justice Bible.” At that moment, something very important began to make itself clear to me.
I realized that all the issues we were considering described injustice.
Without realizing what we were doing, we left justice behind to talk about violations of justice.
If I spend all my energy reading of, listening to, and watching all the injustices that the news stations choose to bombard us with, I will have nothing left to focus on and teach the justices of my God. And that is a sad realization...
Maybe this is one reason why our world seems to have no hope or joy anymore: because we're so focused on the injustices and evils of the world, that we forget that God is a God of peace and justice.
Does this mean that we are to ignore the evils of the world? By no means, at all! Jesus concerned Himself with the injustices of His world. And one of my favorite "Jesus stories" centers around this concept of injustice/justice with a lot more wrapped in! John chapter 8... Let's read it together:
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
"Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?"
They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" The He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"
"No, Lord," she said.
And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more."
Justice. Plain and simple. How did Jesus deal with the injustice? He specifically told those calling for her death that each one of them was just as guilty as her, that they had committed sins right along with the best of them. He told the woman to "go and sin no more."
Just because the woman "got off" doesn't mean she didn't experience conviction that day. But more than injustice and conviction, she experienced the justice and grace of Jesus Christ.
There's a lot, here in this story, but I'm just going to pull out one nugget: the point in the story when Jesus first spoke to her. See, a lot of people spend their energy speculating what Jesus was writing in the ground. I really don't care what He was writing; I care about why He was writing. I think He was writing so that He would resist the temptation to look at her...until it was just the two of them. And then He would look up from His scribbling, and say grace to her.
That He, the only One who had never sinned, would not condemn her or throw a stone at her. That He sees the brokenness of her, standing there before Him, and He chooses to forgive her.
If we could look at people suffering injustices and people committing injustices in this way, our energy would be much better spent. We would be living the example that Jesus taught: to not condemn, but to go and sin no more.
If you feel led to do this, to live justice and grace to those in our community who have suffered injustices, would you consider volunteering with us? Hearts that are able and willing to look past our clients' sin to see them as Jesus sees them is what we desperately need here! Because, let's be honest, we want others to look past our sin to see us the way Jesus does...