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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beyond Justice

This is the final post in our series about going 'beyond' when it comes to race and racism. 

Justice is important. Justice restores what has been broken. It rights the wrongs. It returns things to how they should be. We see throughout scripture that justice matters to God: "The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love" (Psalm 33:5). God tells us to "follow justice and justice alone" (Deuteronomy 16:20) and that "blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right" (Psalm 106:3).

But is that all that God would have for us?

As Christians, we celebrate the the ultimate redemption of our brokenness: Christ's miracle of resurrection after His death on the cross. The story of Christ's death and resurrection goes beyond justice. It shows us that God has a bigger plan for us in mind.

We cannot continue to sign petitions or attend marches, only to retreat to our respective corners on Sunday morning.  How many 'roundtable discussions' will pay for our salvation? How many keynote lectures from Wise or Alexander will absolve our inclination for white preachers in the pulpits? How many diversity seminars shall we attend in order to earn our atonement? God's work is not sterile, it's not neat. It's not about dutiful acts performed at arm's length. We treat God's redemption like a series of checkboxes on our do-gooder's list, but that sort justice is not worth the intimate sacrifice of a Savior on a cross.

God's plan is not about righting wrongs and then simply going our separate ways. It may seem like once we've paid our debts, the story should end there. The worlds might suggest that once racial justice is achieved, there will be no need to interact further. We might believe that after so many years of hostility, it would be better to simply walk away. 

But if God merely wanted justice, Jesus's death and resurrection would be unnecessary. God sent the Son to restore God's relationship with us and with the world. For mere justice's sake, God might have sent a bolt of lightning and called it a day. But God seeks to radically restore us to Himself and to each other. God desires a deeper reconciliation that goes beyond justice. This is the ultimate miracle of the Gospel. 

God's justice is a saving justice--a resurrection from a death. We die to our priviledge, to our systems of disparity. And then we rise again as advocates for equity and peace. Out of our sin, God calls us into a different life. Redemption means we turn from our behavior into a new way of living that reflects our changed understanding of the world. We cannot continue in our old ways, blindly profiting from disparity.

We like justice. We like a world that is fair. We don't want to be wronged, and if we are, we want it righted. There is a place for justice. Justice is essential to our legitimate work against racism on earth--a necessary step in restoring the harmony of true relationship. We cannot ignore the justice that needs to happen. Without justice in our laws and institutions, any attempt at unity is a farce.  Sometimes justice is all we can manage until we find the strength and grace to love as Christ loves.

But the miracle of the cross was Christ’s unique capacity to fulfill both justice and reconciliation, simultaneously. Christ's death and resurrection marked God's redemption of the whole world. For individuals, yes, but also for institutions and structures. We follow a Christ who is personally familiar with the fatal consequences of a broken judicial system. He has redemption in mind for our modern courts, our education system, our policing system, and our legislative system. And He calls us to participate in that restoring work together.

It is Christ's death and resurrection that grabbed our attention here on earth enough to cause us to want to change our lives and our world. Therefore, we do not continue in the behavior that caused our separation, but strive to restore what was broken. But we must go beyond that as well, into the new Church that Christ has made for us--abiding with one another, celebrating each other. No longer simply striving for equality, but for deep enduring unity that reflects the rich relationships that God would have for us. 


  1. One last thought: Christ's resurrection also means that no longer can we be paralyzed in our guilt, like those who do not know their salvation. God has called us beyond guilt, by His saving grace, into action in response to God's redemption (see post:

  2. Thanks for your excellent putting topics and this is impressed me very much. idea special education Are you want to ensure your child future for special educational then it is high time joined with us . We are ready to help you for any kind of educational needs. Presently our aims for student success by uniting parents, student and school management and all of the care.

  3. Powerful post. "PREACH"

  4. Thank you, Mary. You're kind words and support are always appreciated!


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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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