Hello Church Devotion Sept. 10, 2013

J is for Justice

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 NIV 84

All you need to do is turn on the local or national news for a few minutes and you will hear a great deal about justice or rather the injustice in the world. Justice seems to be that all elusive goal that we never seem to reach and yet we keep striving for it. It is a point of great tension amid our communities and culture as to what justice is and who gets to carry it out. Even amidst the circumstances where justice prevails many are left hurting and in despair over the loss or burden that isn’t diminished by said temporal justice. Justice is both needed and leaves more to be desired from the earthly sense as we cannot seem to turn back the tide of evil. So for many we are left wondering what exactly is justice.

Justice as most people think about it is determined by the law of the land. For many it is determined by the government and ruling authority. This can complicate things further by recognizing that different cultures and subgroups within culture can have vastly different understandings of justice and how to uphold it. Justice is very simply fairness, correctness, or the conforming to the set of moral standards that exist. It is at this point on morality where the discussion begins to be quite confusing. For Christians we begin to ask questions to decipher between worldly justice and eternal justice. We wonder if our temporary justice should mimic or reflect the eternal justice that God demands. It is in our understanding of the ‘kingdom of the left’/’left hand’ and the ‘kingdom of the right’/’right hand’ that we begin to understand God’s direction for justice both temporally and eternally.

God is at work in both kingdom’s but with different goals in both. God uses the kingdom of the left for temporal, worldly matters. It is in the left hand that God gives us authorities, governments, and civil organizations to help maintain order and promote peace. Obviously, we still have the prevalence of sin that cause these things to ultimately fall short but that is not at the fault of God but rather our fault due to sin. Justice within the kingdom of the left can vary depending on those in power. We as Christians often use God’s law to act as a curb for civilization which has had a great impact on the many rules we have here in the USA. Temporary justice then is met when rules are upheld and penalties and punishments for the crime are handed down to the criminal. But for us Christians we are living in both the kingdom of the left and right.

The right hand of God is the kingdom that the Gospel of Christ and his church rules. It is in the right hand that God’s justice for eternity plays out. A quick example of the difference is one may be punished in the ‘left hand’ by the rules of the world but be forgiven and seen as righteous by the ‘right hand’. We are all examples of this as believers in Christ. If it were not for Christ and his redemptive work on the cross we would be guilty of all our sins and deserve the wrath of God for our sins. But Christ took our sins upon himself so that we could be clothed in his righteousness and the justice of God was carried out. Sin had to be reckoned with in order for God’s justice to prevail. We have no room to boast as we did not by our action or strength meet the demands of God’s law but we have been made right in Christ.

As we then look at justice in the world we are to remember that we are both in the kingdom of the right and left. We can support and follow the rules of the governments and authorities so long as they don’t go against the word of God and at the same time we live in freedom from the law knowing that Christ has fulfilled the law to redeem us, fallen sinners, who could not meet the laws demands. This balancing act can be confusing at times but at the end of every situation and every day we can rest on the assurance of God’s righteousness and justice that reigns supreme in the right hand of his kingdom. We must not forget that both kingdoms belong to God and serve a purpose that was setup by him. He is Lord of all and his justice has the final say. Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy through his Son Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I come to you this day, like every day, broken and sinful. Please forgive me for my sins and cleanse me from my unrighteousness. Lord, thank you for sending your son Jesus to take my sin and the sin of all people to the cross. You have made us righteous for Christ’s sake and redeemed us from our brokenness. Lord, help me and all believers to see your work in both sides of your Kingdom as you rule over both. Help me to seek justice for all in this world while sharing the hope and promise of justice through Christ for all eternity. Lord, lead me to be a light in the darkness of this world as you have called me out of the darkness and into your light. Guide my ways and my path in the name of Jesus your son I pray. Amen.

Further Thoughts:

1. Read Romans 5. How did God go about carrying out his justice? Was forgiveness obtained by our work or did he change us through his work?

2. In what ways does the world struggle to understand the two kingdoms of God and how that affects our lives?

3. How might we demonstrate God’s love in both the right and left hand of God’s kingdom?