I've been thinking a lot lately about the fact that many of our churches have been calling for Christians to take a stronger role in matters of "social justice". I've realized that it's undeniable that our call as a group to spreading the message of non-violence is tied together in some way or another with this new movement of Christians who "are thirsty for God's justice." For the most part I am very pleased with this change of heart. I think I can speak for several of us when I say that this has been something that the church has needed for a very long time, and I am very excited about where it might lead us. However, I desire for this movement to be Christlike and so I want to propose something that I think "stirs up the waters" a little bit when it comes to God and justice. Here it is:
I'm not convinced that we follow a God of "justice", at least not as we know "justice" today.
One of the things I've learned in talking to fellow pacifists and contrasting their views with those who are more "pro-military" is that one must not deny that there is a sense of "honor" in the duty a soldier performs when that duty is done to protect the weak and innocent. As pacifists and as people who choose non-violence its important that we do not dismiss this. The idea of protecting the innocent through whatever force is necessary is as close to the world can get to knowing Godly justice. HOWEVER, what Christ calls us to in his "sermon on the mount" is a new ethic which goes beyond the old "eye for an eye" sense of justice to something completely different which calls us to love even our enemies and to bless them when they persecute us.
What I fear is that the new cry for "social justice" in the Church, if not tempered by a constant reflection on the non-violent ethic of Jesus Christ, will gradually resort to a worldy "soldiering" kind of justice.
I believe (as I think many Christians do) that we are called as Christians to follow in Christ's footsteps and because of this I believe it is our responsibility as His disciples to "incarnate" him as best we can in today's world. When I look at the cross and when I look at the way Jesus spoke to the sinners and enemies he was surrounded by I do not see "justice", I see great "injustice". Christ's sacrificial death on the cross was certainly not an act of true legal "justice" as we know it. We know that Christ was innocent but that he died on our behalf, even when we were still a part of the mob calling for his death. We also know that loving our enemies and blessing them as Christ has taught us to do, when lived out, certainly does not look like the kind of "justice" we see revolutionaries and politicians calling for in today's world. The God we follow came as a sacrificial lamb, pure and blameless:
And so I want to suggest that perhaps how we are really called to live is more of a lifestyle of holy "injustice". For if God had meted out "justice" to us fairly, as we deserve it, we would have no salvation and Christ would never have gone to the cross.
As is written in Luke 12: "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more."
Go out and forgive unjustly, as your father in heaven has forgiven you.