I have not written in a while. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, just ask my wife, but more because I felt the pull of the Spirit on my heart and wanted to let Him work in me and put my focus on listening rather than speaking.
The lesson that I learned is one that is crystallizing in front of the entire world right at this moment.
When justice is not done, mercy is forgotten. When laws and standards are not applied universally, a thirst for justice grows in us and buries our ability to extend mercy and compassion. We grow angry. That anger can do one of two things – it can drive us to righteous anger and a willingness to restore justice, or it can drive us to hate. In Star Wars, Yoda says that fear leads to hate and hate leads to anger. There is much truth in that statement.
We fear a world without justice because we were made to live in a world ruled by a Just and Merciful God. When justice is not done, that fear grows because the right nature of the world has been upset and deep in our being we know that we are ultimately powerless by ourselves. We fear anarchy and lawlessness, because when everything becomes permissible, there are no longer any limits and safeguards to protect our lives, fortunes, and families.
That fear can galvanize as anger and then hate. We begin to coldly shut off compassion in our hearts and blame others for the lawlessness that we feel exists when justice is unequally applied. Without the safety that justice provides, love wanes and we are deprived of one of the things that provides hope in this life. We begin to blame individuals who seem better off than we are. We begin to blame groups and focusing on hatred on them because they are not us. We fail to see that the problem is in our own hearts and we misdiagnose the illness. We seek men’s justice rather than God’s justice in an order to quench this thirst.
Just look around you at the world today.
Children pour across the American border – sent by their parents from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and various other Central American countries to escape poverty, injustice, and violence. Those parents hope for better lives for their children in the one beacon of hope and freedom in the world. I empathize with this desire as any parent should. There are calls for justice amongst many Americans – “Send them home,” “Deport them.” We call for justice and our government does nothing. It is difficult to show mercy on their plight when justice for their action is lacking.
Hamas rockets Israel and digs tunnels to conduct a massive surprise attack in the near future. Israel defends itself by going after the missile launchers, stocks of rockets, and the commanders and troops attacking them while they work to discover and destroy each tunnel. Across Europe and around the world, people condemn Israel for doing something that they would DEMAND if it were happening to their country. In America we are not immune from this as pro-Hamas demonstrations occurred over the weekend in Chicago, Miami, and elsewhere. Jews around the world fear for their lives as anti-semitism is rapidly on the rise.
A man in Arizona suffers an excruciatingly long execution for murders committed over a decade ago. He lay silently in agony for hours as the lethal drugs finally ended his life. The murderer’s victims’ family certainly felt justice, but the feeling by many that this excruciating death doesn’t matter because justice was done is vile and hate-filled.
Iraqi Christians, or Nazarenes, flee their homes or go into hiding as the Islamic State in the Levant and Syria (ISIS) marks them and their houses. If they do not convert to Islam, pay an on-going monetary penalty for their faith, or flee, they will be killed. Their homes and businesses are being marked for destruction.
Mercy in the absence of justice will lead to dependency and entitlement. Amnesty, welfare, food stamps. We can be merciful, but if we are not just, we fail to solve the root problems of the human condition. The giver of mercy exercises their power over the recipient and the recipient becomes no better than a slave.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.