“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20)
To those who love God and have been grieved by the tumult that has ravaged our world in all directions lately, may this Scripture verse bring hope.
And lest we think we’re unique, Billy Joel once sang, “We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning.” Upheaval and injustice have been happening since The Fall. We chose to disobey God, and here we are.
Stepping back from the haze of smoke and shards of destruction, straining to hear God’s voice, a line resounds within: “The seeking of justice for one should never involve the trampling of another.”
Galatians 3:28 reminds us of our oneness in God: “There is neither Jew nor Greek…slave nor free person…male nor female…for you are all one in Jesus Christ.” As Mother Theresa rightly reminded: “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
The naming of injustice is of God, and something we all should be after, and many have been. The opportunities in this realm are never exhausted. But if seeking the justice of one person or group means trampling on another person or group, justice unravels upon itself.
If we seek justice for the black man wrongly treated by a white cop by deeming all cops bad, we are back in the Garden, walking away from God.
If we determine that anyone of privilege is bad and needs to be banished, we risk cutting off our connection to those who may be in a position to help.
If, in order to hear some voices more, we silence others that may have something to offer, we will never find resolve.
If, to raise the dignity of the minority, we seek to ravage those who are in the majority, a truly just gain will prove futile.
Mind you, I have not said we shouldn’t seek justice for minorities. Nor that everyone of privilege is good. Nor that only majority voices should be heard. I don’t believe any of that. But as we seek the justice that is rightly needed, and in many cases sorely delayed, we cannot lose sight of one another and the unique and valuable contribution each of us brings as individuals to the Body of Christ.
We need to see each other not as groups – “them versus us” – but as brothers and sisters to whom we belong.
Injustice and sin work hand in hand, and sin must be rooted out – in our own hearts first of all. Otherwise, it will be impossible to move forward. We cannot call out the sins of others, or of the culture, without recognizing our own contribution. No one is exempt from this important examination of conscience.
Certainly, even with all the bad news, there is good news. The God of justice is with us, and through him, we can increase the flow of grace together. God be with us as we try.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on June 18, 2020.]