Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Justice and Revenge

When I first came to Russia, I bought and read a book about a murder that happened in a church community several years back. The person accused of the murder got off with what seemed like a light penalty. After I finished the book, I decided to do a little research on the Internets to find out, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story," that is what has happened to the people since the trial.

I couldn't find out a lot about what happened once their fifteen minutes was up, but I did find out a lot about how the rest of the world felt about the accused and the penalty that was received.

Sometimes, I find reading the comments on news stories a lot more enlightening than the news story itself. In this day of blogs, and internet and globalization, everyone has an opinion on something. And they like to make those opinions known to the whole world. Which is fine in and of itself. There's nothing inherently wrong with it. But I'm not going to lie, there is a certain kind of comment I've started seeing on articles where people feel that "Justice" isn't being served, and truth be told it's kind of disturbing.

"She will answer for her sins,"

"He will get what he deserves"

"She played the system and walked freely...we all have our day in judgement"

"He's in Hell where he belongs"

"They'll get what's coming to them"

I mean, I'm not saying this isn't true. We all will have to face judgement and answer for what we've done( 2 Cor. 5:10) It's just the way that people state these facts like they already know the answers. Maybe that doesn't make sense. But it's almost like while they're saying "He or She will be judged" what they actually mean is "He or She will be judged, found guilty and sent to Hell to burn for all eternity"

When did we become such vengeful people? I mean, if you had a family member who was murdered or involved, I can understand that you'd be upset. People have a right to their feelings and I'm not trying to marginalize that. I mean, my goodness David, the man after God's own heart, often freely expressed his feelings of anger, loss, and revenge. And have you read the Psalms lately? Some of them are quite full of these sentiments. (Check out Psalm 94 for example)

But the difference is the Psalmists and David knew where they stood. A type of "God you are amazing and powerful and I want your justice to reign down on these terrible people. But I understand that you are God and have your own ways."

I think we can learn a lot from that.

Christ himself told us to love our enemies. (Matt. 5:43-48) I know, I know, easier said than done. Now this is gospel according to Abigail, but we're not talking "love your enemy" as in seeing Jim Bob at the church potluck and quickly running to the other side of the fellowship hall. Nor do I think he's saying we have to spend every waking moment with Jim Bob and become best buddies with him. Love takes work. Anyone who is in any kind of relationship (not necessarily romantic) knows that. You have to learn about the other party, you have to get to know them, and most importantly you have to see their faults and learn to live with and/or deal with them.

Again, I'm not trying to marginalize something like murder, rape, abuse etc. But what I'm saying is that loving our enemy means you have to let go, take a step back from how they've wronged you and see them as humans. As people. We are broken people in a broken world after all. That doesn't excuse what they've done or make it right. It can't change the past. But loving a person gives you the ability to forgive them and forgiving them gives you the ability to move forward.

Sins are not unforgivable and in the eyes of God, sin is sin. If you truly repent, God will forgive you. This covers everything from lying, drunkenness, sexual immorality, yes even something like rape. I know, maybe it's easy for me to sit here and say "love and forgive" with the safety of a computer screen in front of me, but I know that when I let things go, no matter what it is, when I strive to love God and love people, I am a happier person because of it.

There is a time for everything and perhaps it's time we leave the judging to God.

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