8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does Yahweh require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Three years ago I had an earth shaking encounter with the simple truth that “loving thy neighbor” and the way of Christ meant so much more than I had ever understood. What I thought was a very clear picture of God and scripture began to unravel at the seams and what I once thought was clear I then realized was actually a very murky perspective. The true beauty was that Holy Spirit was so graciously wading through the misconceptions and interpretations, filtering my heart with kindness and grace. I think most Christians would say “loving thy neighbor” and celebrating the death of another human are not at all congruent. I think we would agree that Christ was clear on loving our neighbors, our enemies, and topics like turning the other cheek. Sadly I think, like myself, the church upholds Christ in profession but not in application. We believe in Christ as long as that means we do not have to really believe all of the things he has said. We proclaim the way of Christ as long as it does not interfere with our view of God and what it really means to live out the Gospel.
Fate would have it that the day Osama Bin Laden was shot would be the first day of many to come of an upward spiral out of the rather dark and misguided view I had of God, His love, and what true justice looked like. That day ended with me carrying a sickness for how we as a nation, and more importantly a church, celebrated the condemnation of a man to an eternal fate void of eternal life. Despite this revelation I still did not partake in the full measure of the truth that was being unveiled to me by Holy Spirit. Sick at the thought of celebration of a man’s death but still proclaiming we(I) had the right to celebrate that Justice won out over the committed atrocities. Truthfully I was still holding high the banner of human justice and trying my best to call it God’s. I tried my best to convince myself that this was acceptable before God but my attempts were vain. I rejected the idea of celebrating a man’s death but clung to celebration of mankinds form of Justice. There was no difference. I tried to make the truth Holy Spirit was revealing to my heart more palatable to my nationalistic “eye for an eye” appetite for justice. As People who claim the way of Christ and as the Church we can not separate this form of justice from that of the world and we can not tether this idea of justice to our creator. They are incongruent. Repellant in their very nature. Our system of justice demands blood. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. Thankfully Gods does not. The heart of the issue for me and the biggest hurdle to overcome was that if I abandoned this worldly idea of justice then I had no other option than to abandon my long held view of God.
Osama Bin Ladens blood could never bring restoration for the crimes he unleashed upon his fellow man. Nor is the Blood of Sheep, Adolf Hitler, or men like John Wayne Gacy adequate to suffice for the sin and bloodshed of humanity. Their loss of life could never heal wounds. Never bring peace. Never make those who suffered at their hands whole again. It only stood as a catalyst for more bloodshed. Violence begets Violence. Appealing to that deeply engraved lust for blood that found itself implanted in us on the day Cain struck down Able declaring Able unfit to be his brother. We call it freedom, we call it justice, we even call it God’s judgment, but truthfully no matter how much we try and make it sound like the words of Jesus we fall short. This is not the way of the Prince of Peace or the Kingdom of His Father! That is the key difference in Yahweh’s justice and the justice we cling to. His justice is Redemptive while ours is retributive. We live in a church culture that is still drunk on the the misconceptions of medieval thought. We stand in contradiction to God and even ourselves.
We worship the Prince of Peace but demand bloodshed. We stand valiantly in the name of Pro-Life to end abortion but support the death penalty. We say we are saved by the Gospel of Peace but are ready to take up arms against our brothers in the name of nationalism. This sickness permeates so deep into our hearts and culture that most Christians do not even realize they are exalting the work of Satan(who is the father of murder). The reason we stomach this view so easily is because at the end of the day we believe this is how God operates. It is easy to condone murder when we believe our God would murder His own Son. Thankfully this could not be further from the truth! Christ came to show a better way, to usher in the Kingdom of God, and end all misconceptions of the Father! In Christ we find a God who is willing to die rather let his children die. A God who is willing to condemn death itself by dying once and for all! A God who has revealed that no man has the right to throw stones at his brother. A God who is victorious! A God whose unyielding love is radiated through the life of His Son! A God who revealed that loving Him is expressed most vibrantly when we are loving our brothers as Christ loved us! No longer can we be like Cain, because God has declared to us that all of humanity are now our siblings. In Christ the ideas of a violent and angry God who needs convincing not to destroy the world come to an end. Christ revealed the true heart and nature of the Father. A Father who desires all men to be saved even if it means sending His Son to die, so no one else ever has to. That is the justice of God; Redemption. We, as the church, are in desperate need of a refresher course in the way of our Savior, a reminder that our King stands in opposition of the Kingdoms of the World and how they function! But, by all means, do not take my word for it! If anything, approach my words with total skepticism and then do what I did, have a heart willing to receive truth.
Three years ago I prayed a prayer that has changed everything I know. A prayer to God that he would remove any of my contextual filters that have marred the beauty of the Gospel. That He would re-teach me everything I thought I knew about Him, His love, and His justice. It has been a whirlwind adventure thus far and I have so much more ground to cover. I encourage you to do the same! Be willing to step outside of your box and stare into the vast mystery that is our Father and let him reveal light unto your heart!
“…that this prophecy was intended to introduce, in contrast to earthly warfare and kingly triumph, another Kingdom, of which the just King would be the Prince of Peace, Who was meek and lowly in His Advent, Who would speak peace to the heathen, and Whose sway would yet extend to earth’s utmost bounds. Thus much may be said, that if there ever was true picture of the Messiah-King and His Kingdom, it is this…”
-Alfred Edersheim(On the prophecy of/the triumphal entry of Christ)
Through Whom, to Whom, and for Whom all things exist