Discerning Justice

As a Christian, it is okay for you to believe in racial justice but not get on board with everything being done in the name of justice?

If you seek racial justice do you have to endorse the whole movement and all of its actions?

Does God endorse every call to justice? We'll answer these today.

So far, we've seen a few things about justice.

      1. Justice upholds God's righteous standard, God's glory against sin. God's standard, not just the sins we don't like.

      2. Justice is fair. Justice demands equal enforcement of the same laws and equal consequences for the same crime.

      3. Justice is also redemptive. This really sets true justice is apart. While justly condemning truly sinful acts, justice seeks to redeem the wrongdoer. It offers a path to reconciliation.      

      4. justice makes things right.

This bad thing happened. What do we need? Justice. Justice makes things right, negatively and positively.

Justice is both punitive and restorative. It fairly punishes the wrongdoer and it fairly compensates the losses suffered by the person who was wronged.

Best example is the cross.

Offense was given; we all sin in thought, word, and deed. Someone has to pay to satisfy justice. The Lord says "the person that sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20) Yet in love, God chose to pay the price. Notice, sin was punished not ignored; the guilty cannot simply be forgiven, for kind as that may be it isnot just. No, the full sentence was carried out. The One who was sinned against, God, was satisfied. And the offender is offered full redemption, reconciliation, and renewed life with God by accepting His payment.

Many of us want to be a voice for positive change in a world awash in sin.

But in the name of justice, society is quick to label many "social injustices" and Christians sometimes get pulled into fighting for some justice causes which actually contradict God's Word and violate His character.

But it all happens so fast. In just the last month alone, what started out as a biblically just cause for racial justice swiftly turned from peaceful protests to violent anarchy in some cities.

Calls for racial justice became chants of "no justice no peace". Calls went from arrest four police to "F" the police to "Defund the police". Calls escalated from topple confederate statues to topple the Abolitionist Memorial statue of Lincoln. Calls turned from burn down businesses to burn down the entire system. Things change rapidly!

And for some this is all exciting. For others it's confusing, and kind of scary.

And again it happens so fast and changes so rapidly that it's hard to keep up with in real time and it's hard for some Christians to discern what is truly just.

Plus, there are so many other "justice" issues just waiting for the spotlight.

Just two days ago, Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood lit the American Flag on fire and tweeted, "We won't stop until we live in a new America that respects the rights of pregnant people."

So this is an important question.

Is every call to justice worth contending for? As Christians, we must respond to true injustices and not take the bait every time. But how do you know which are truly just causes?

Remember our first point: Justice upholds God's righteous standard, God's glory against sin.

Justice is guided by what is morally good, by what God says is good and evil rather than driven by what a mob or the media says.   

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness…

Comparing what the culture calls injustice to what God's Word says protects us from taking up causes which confuse good and evil.

Simply put, if God says something is sinful or evil, then it's not a just cause that Christians should fight for.

Even if your heart is filled with compassion, even if it's in the name of fairness or equality or love, if you contend for people to do something which violates God's Word and His righteousness, you contend against God.

The initial matter before us is racial justice.

Racial justice is a just cause. It upholds God's glory against sin. God's image in man. Human dignity and equality. Plus there is far too much poverty, too many tears, too many police videos, too many deaths.

If racial justice is your passion, serve God in it. Bless others this way. Pray fervently. Think biblically. Keep your heart pure. Do justice in the way of Jesus. You know, "Blessed are the peacemakers." And when society turns its attention to a myriad other injustices, stick with this.

Since there are so many true injustices in the world, realize, you don't have to jump at every call. You won't have time for anything else.

If you quietly help the less fortunate with basic needs like food and clothing and shelter—that's a just cause. Serve God in it. Bless those who need help. Don't be pressured to stop doing this in order to take up a better social justice cause. This is a biblical calling.

Deuteronomy 15:7 If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; 8 but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

This starts with your church and we have a strong benevolence program for those among us who are in need. If you support this, continue. Bless others.

If you heart is to help moms to love and not abort their unborn child, this is certainly a just cause. It's biblical. It upholds God's righteousness. Don't turn aside from this. Pray fervently. Serve God in this.

Proverbs 31:8 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

If your passion is to seek justice for women forced into the sex trade, that's a biblically just cause. Again, pray, speak, support it. And if this is what God has called you to, serve God in this.

Exodus 21:6 Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

Defend the rights of the afflicted, help the needy, and take appropriate actions in the way of Jesus without hatred, without violence, without breaking the law, without injustice.

Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Right now, the social climate in America feels pretty toxic to joy and love and even spiritual growth.

There's a legalistic religious sense of the rhetoric and angst out there. Kind of a totalitarianistic feel; no grace.

Sin is being named. Racism! Racists! Racist past. Racist system. Racist nation deserving justice, meaning, punishment, meaning violence, meaning revolution. I don't think it's a majority but it's people with a lot of passion and influence. And they're using shame and anger to control behavior.

Christians, we don't do this; not even for a just cause. Think Jesus.

For the church, justice is a spiritual issue, a relationship with Christ issue. Sin is a spiritual issue. So racism is a spiritual issue. Anarchy is a spiritual issue.

Understand, a heart of justice laments to see Black mothers and young men hurting and grieving. Another's heart of justice laments over streets filled with violence and cities on fire. Good people on both sides seek justice.

As Christians, let us pursue justice justly, for God's glory, with faith in God's grace, offering others a path to redemption not just a call for condemnation.

For we know all about sin and it's power; that sin in our flesh so frequently controls us, and makes people do things that we really don't want to do.

We know and admit that in and of ourselves we do not have any real power over sin. That we can't control our own sin let alone anyone else's.

We know how pointing out sins, name calling, and condemning people cannot change anyone's heart. These do not lead to the change we hope for in this nation.

We know sin thrives on feelings of guilt and shame and worthlessness.

That's what is being carried out by some in society, on the news and through social media.

But when sin is the issue people tend to hide their sins. They fear being stigmatized, ostracized. People pretend, they virtue signal. This way everybody looks good yet sin is never dealt with and nobody really changes.

Rather than focus on sin, life change begins when people meet Jesus in their sin and find their shame dealt with and their sins forgiven.

Justice is best attained through grace, love, and helping others to soar in a relationship with Christ. Rather than fix people's behavior, "Stop being bad", let's help them to know Jesus and embrace God's love. For there's no power in shame, but there is power in Christ.

In his book, Who Gives a R.I.P. About Sin, Norm Wakefield wrote,

"The message of every church should be, 'This is a safe environment in which you can bring the issue that’s defeating you into the open.' We need to be saying, 'This is an environment saturated with our Father's grace, and you will find compassion, hope and guidance as you face the problem of sin within you.'"

As Christians, let's contend for justice full of grace and not depending on power and punishment. Let's discern and defend those facing true injustices. Serve God and help us do this as a church.