Every person on the planet agrees that #Ferguson is a mess. Red and yellow, black and white; we all want resolution.
Every person on the planet wants justice.
But why is appealing for justice so unsatisfying and divisive?
Justice is far from us
Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
Much of the judgment of Israel, indeed nearly all of the judgment (whether by God or man) on the Church, has been because of a lack of justice/mercy towards outsiders. Outsiders feel the sting of being outside whether we are just or not, and Christians have often (purposefully or not) exacerbated this problem.
One way to quickly exacerbate outsiders are with appeals to justice. On a relational, i.e. emotionally satisfying, level of communication, appeals to justice only scratch the surface of conversation. (Read this whole article re: levels of communication)
Why are appeals for justice so unsatisfying?
A proposal: stop appealing for justice
This brief argument depends upon a certain definition of justice. Justice, more than simply “just behavior or treatment,” taps into a deeper longing. Indeed,
Justice is the desire for “all things to be set right.”
This is why appeals to justice are unsatisfying.
Many of my white friends are consistently (if not exclusively) appealing to justice in #Ferguson. Justice is: the officers justifiable fear/response, the dozens of corroborating witnesses, the eyewitness videos, autopsies, etc.
Many of my black friends are consistently appealing for justice in #Ferguson. Justice is: not turning a blind eye to yet another death of a young black man by police, use of deadly force against an unarmed man, lack of true accountability for police officers, and the ongoing excessive and unwise use of military-style (not military) policing in law enforcement.
Neither of the end games here “set all things to right.” There is still another slain young black boy. This cannot be set right. There is still racial tension and unrest. I fear this Babelish wickedness too will always plague the human race. There is still an officer and his family in hiding: guilty until proven innocent, and even then still guilty in the eyes of everyone who remembers his face.
So stop all the partisan and ethnically-blind appeals for justice. Pray for authorities to find a silver-lining and judge wisely. Pray for and listen to “the other” community and feel their pain, know and hear their angst. Let’s stop peddling facts as the final and only relevant level of communication, whether the facts (to you) support a narrative of racial injustice or freedom to defend.
And let us pray, as Isaiah did, that God will set things right soon. Pray that Christ will return, the innocent slain will rise again, and the unjustly/justly accused will stand uncondemned in Christ. All things will be set right one day.
This is gospel justice. This is the justice we all want but is far from us. Maranatha. Come quickly Lord Jesus.
The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.
“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.
Postscript: This article is not meant to discredit or retreat from movements or arguments for justice in society. I am NOT saying, “Throw in the towel and pray.” What I am saying is that appeals to justice should always be tempered (by the Christian) with gospel sensitivity and humility. Indeed, we cannot set things right on our own.