Every Thumb's Width

Do Justice

I am not a social justice warrior. I may not even know exactly what it means. I believe that many injustices are being done in the name of justice. I understand being skeptical of those who brandish the phrase like a two-edged sword in front of others’ necks, let alone of those who beat others over the head with it like a sledgehammer of guilt.

And. (Here’s just one example of there being more than only two colors). And the Bible describes justice as something to be done not just something to keep in our dictionaries. “Ah, yes, I have a great definition right here, let me show it to you the page.” Justice cannot be true justice if it only stays at the sentence level, even if the sentence is true.

When Solomon became King and the Lord offered him whatever he asked, Solomon’s well-known request was wisdom for governing. The Lord granted the request, and the immediate case that came before Solomon was that of the two prostitutes. It’s really a fantastic story, and the result was that the people knew they had a king who would do something.

And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice. (1 Kings 3:28)

The LORD Himself “is king forever and ever,” and we stand in awe of Him because we know that He “will incline [His] ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed” (Psalm 10:16-18). The prophet Micah asks and answers “what is good” and what does the LORD requires for every man: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Doing justice surely includes investigation, deliberation, vindication, retribution, and many other verbal nouns ending in -ion. Doing justice means caring about things in society, about social things, about how our neighbors are being treated, the neighbors that God commands us to love. So for those who argue that such interests and energies are moving away from the simplicity of the gospel, does this mean that doing justice is no longer to be done? Or it should be done, just not by Christians? Why not Christians? And how will those who aren’t Christians even know what justice is?

Every Thumb's Width

More Than Two Colors

Why do those who acknowledge subtlety compromise? And why are those who have little capacity for nuance wrong?

This is a false dichotomy. Not everyone who sees a spectrum of options always slides to the negative side. Likewise, those who live in only big categories can choose correctly, though it is more obvious when they’re wrong.

Or, which is better, a framing carpenter or a finish carpenter? Doesn’t it depend on what you’re trying to accomplish? Two-by-fours have built and supported some amazing structures, but they can’t do it all.

Or, if you could only see in two colors, let’s say cyan and magenta, and you had a shelf for each kind of can, and a friend asked you to put a yellow can on a shelf, where would you put it?

Or, are truth, knowledge, and wisdom all referring to the same thing? And if they are different words for the same thing, must they all be either black or white? If the three words are related but not strict synonyms, and if truth is black/white but wisdom was on a spectrum, would you discourage the pursuit of wisdom since it could lead to compromise for those who think they have it but actually don’t, or at least not enough of it?

These questions come up in an attempt to figure out why those in the Truth-Lovers Camp (TLC)–mostly my kind of people–seem not only to be highly suspicious of, critical toward, and increasingly isolated from others, but also why they seem to be satisfied being wrong and saying untrue things when they lump everyone outside of their camp into the same category.

There are more than two colors.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Blood Speaks

Blood speaks. God made the world in such a way that the shedding of blood reverberates.

Cain killed his brother Abel in a field far away from earshot. No one knew because no one could hear Abel yell, or so Cain thought. But God said, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” The blood cry isn’t a certain pitch, like a dog whistle, that only certain ears can hear. The blood cry is an inescapable principle, even if men try to ignore it.

Life is in the blood and shedding blood is destroying the life of an image-bearer of God. God does not condone when we mar our own image or when we mar another’s man’s reflection. Blood witnesses that worship has gone wrong somewhere, even if the blood is a sacrifice of atonement for sin.

More than a deterrent against shedding blood, the principle that blood speaks is the reason that we are not pessimistic about the world. Yes, hatred and murder and abortion and other evils run rampant. But Jesus shed His blood and His blood makes a cry that will never be forgotten. This is the good news.

The author of Hebrews wrote about Jesus, “the mediator of a new covenant,” and how we who worship Him have come “to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). Abel’s blood cries out for justice. Christ’s blood cries out for for justice and also for justification. God hears the blood of all murdered men, but none more loudly than the blood of His own Son.

Even as we eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood by faith, the “better word,” the saving word of Jesus’ death is proclaimed until He comes.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Not the Final Meeting

Thank God that the justice of God can never be isolated from the mercy of God. We can divide them when we study them. We can track both words through a concordance search and read passages that mention one and not the other. But in the world, in God’s nature, the two cannot be separated.

When God judged Adam and Eve, promising them pain and death, then banishing them from the Garden, He honored His righteous, authoritative justice. When He promised the defeat of the serpent and then covered the couple with skins and made it so that they could not live forever in the knowledge of guilt, He honored His righteous, loving mercy.

The same event showed more than one attribute for those with eyes to see. No greater display of His justice and mercy has been given than in the death of Jesus on the cross. Was the crucifixion the worst thing or the best thing that has ever happened? For all those who believe in God it is both.

In the Son’s sacrifice justice and mercy kiss. God’s demands are met, even as angry, jealous men betrayed and murdered an innocent man. They meant it for evil, God meant it for good. God used the unjust to satisfy His justice. God used the unmerciful to show mercy.

Golgotha was not the final meeting of these two attributes. If we trust God, then in many of our sufferings (personal and corporate) both justice and mercy are at work. Seeing one means that the other is probably not too far behind.