Evangelicals & Justice
Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy, that the whole earth is full of His glory. R.C. Sproul
When we are wronged, do we ask God for justice? Maybe we should reconsider that impulse. Joel Miller
Never pray for justice, because you might get some. Margaret Atwood
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. Psalm 130:3-4
This past week our nation was rocked yet again with the news of a tragic display of wicked police brutality. The video evidence, which I refused to view in its entirety, is yet another visceral example we live in a supremely fallen world.
Not surprisingly, there are myriad calls for Justice and certainly on some level all people of good-will feel the innate call for some means of redress. Yet, I write with the dogged pursuit to bring all thoughts captive to the Word of Jesus Christ.
Thinking theologically, thinking orthodoxically, thinking Evangelically Evangelicals must resist the secular urge to demand Justice to never become our first-order pursuit. If God were ever to mete out Divine Justice then that would lead to only one outcome: the extinction of the human race, full-stop, period, and end of story.
You see, none of us are immune from offending the Divine Tribunal of the thrice-holy triune God of the Bible. Every offspring of our First Father Adam stands naked and exposed before the All-Consuming Fire of God’s Judgment. Evangelicals know our righteous is as Calvin said a foreign righteous, an alien righteous.
Now, this is not to say we are never free to pursue Justice whatsoever. My only pushback is it is never to become the Evangelical’s first and primary passion and focus. It is far more important to endure suffering for the name and majesty of Jesus Christ than vainly attempting to eradicate evil from the face of this crest fallen and sin-cursed world.
Case in point: how much time did the Second Person of the Triune God spend eradicating the evils of His day and you best believe there were many to choose from? The same quandary for the quintessential Christian of the New Testament: the preeminent Apostle Paul.
Slavery and all manners of human misery for so many were on full display, yet neither Jesus Christ nor Brother Paul spent any time campaigning for Social Justice. That is why if you are buying into the Social Justice Warriors of our time you are not thinking Evangelically, you are engaging in Stinkin Thinkin.
The Gospel does not have temporal matters in view in the slightest. The proper answer to the question: "What are we saved from” is this: We are saved from the Wrath of God; we are saved from God Himself.
We are not saved from cancer
We are not saved from a loveless marriage
We are not saved from poverty
We are not saved from lay-offs, broken promises or unfulfilled hopes and desires.
That is the foolishness the Prosperity Gospel enslaves their adherents to imbibe and embrace.
You may become saved and still die from the cancer that is ravishing your mortal flesh.
You may become born-again and yet die in a marriage that brings you no joy whatsoever.
You may come to trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and never rise above your economic station in life.
You may one day hear Jesus Christ say to you, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant” but hear Him say so only after going through the crucibles of life without any visible temporal victory over your past, current or future circumstance.
Again, these are not things that concern the Gospel and thus should possess no primary concern of Evangelicals.
Yet, what we do hear pour forth from the likes of BLM and those of that ilk. Despite what organizations like these might postulate everything comes down to a worldview at the end of the day. Every worldview recognizes there is something profoundly wrong in this world and proffers a solution. Make no mistake, being religious -minded is unavoidable. God has placed an innate desire within the soul of every person for something beyond this life.
The only question that remains is what humans will attempt to fill that void. Pursue Social Justice and it will be Fools Errands, guaranteed to end in human despair. One only has to look carefully at the tortured life of Mother Teresa. Despite the tremendous fanfare associated with her very visible work with the poor in Calcutta Mother Teresa still came to her fork in the road and understood there was no real joy outside the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, coming full circle to the news of the horrendous murder of Tyre Nichols Evangelical’s primary response must never resort to demands for God’s Justice but only His Grace & Mercy. We should seek God’s Grace & Mercy to envelope the family of Trye Nichols. We should employ cries for Grace & Mercy for the police officers involved as no matter how horrific actions were they are still created in the Imago Dei.
Our marching orders are no different for them. We are still commanded to preach the Gospel and demand (here we do possess full Divine Authority to demand) they repent before they perish (see Luke 13).
The person currently living in the most debased circumstance on Planet Earth this very day is still nonetheless getting better than they deserve when we come to understand someone contaminated with Sin only deserves the full unmitigated Wrath of a Thrice-Holy God. I am convinced Evangelicals are rapidly losing the ability to be in awe of Amazing Grace and sadly we do so collectively without the ability to blush.
Evangelicals are becoming more and more accustomed to living as if God is the Person most blessed to have us tip our hats to Him once a week. We indulge the foolish notion that God loves us because we are such swell fellows. Thus, when we sing Amazing Grace it is not with any sense of awe-inspiring gratitude and wonderment.
Yet, every time I pause to perform a spiritual assessment of my walk with Christ I invariably come to the realization absent the finished work of Jesus Christ He would justly declare me Weighed and Found Wanting.
My heart is heavy for the family of Trye Nichols. No matter his imperfections, real or imagined, no one deserves to be slaughtered by the very people we empower to Serve and Protect. Yet, I will never make the pursuit of Justice to become my meat and drink. No, my meat and drink is that everyone comes to know the forgiveness of Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior.
When I turn on the television and watch the lawyer Ben Crump in view that I am most confident we have Jumped the Shark.
I am crafting this blog post from Miami, Florida after spending a very pleasant three days culminating with me successfully running the Miami Half Marathon. My little brother, Rodney, came to spend some time with his big brother so I am most thankful that God has steadfastly refused to give me Justice. Every day His Mercies are new every morning, alighting into my most undeserving soul.
I implore you to redeem the time and especially for my fellow Evangelicals that we would never fall victim to the Adversary’s diabolical deception to move us off point from the Great Commission. The Great Commission does not pursue temporal concerns. Just this past Lord’s Day I awoke with awe and wonderment, letting the Word of God feed my soul with His Divine Promise concerning the wicked:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
My fellow Evangelicals, I implore you to join me by being still before the Lord and waiting patiently for Him; fretting not ourselves over the one who [seemingly] prosper in his way.
I am sorry, but not sorry, but Dr. Martin Luther King was dead wrong: Justice Delayed is not Justice Denied. Not for Evangelicals, because we trust in the sure word of Him who is the very Word, the veritable Word of God Himself.
He promises in the Book of Revelations 2:18 the following solemn words:
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Just picture eyes like a flame of fire as they symbolically describe the all-consuming gaze of Jesus Christ. Nothing and no one will escape His Day of Divine Justice.
For those outside of the Ark of Safety God’s revelation will never satisfy but for the Evangelical we bend the knee and thus refuse to be sand-bagged by Satan and pursue what is never promised to us in the first place: Justice.
Salvation has only one concern: your soul and eternal felicity with God. Pursue that and your soul will find its proper rest. Please do not come to the fork in your road, only to realize like Mother Teresa that pursuing what God never intended for you to pursue left you empty and hollow.
As always, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.
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With fear & trembling,
Ricky Kyles DEd.Min