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Prayer, Plain and Simple

I want to know God.  Paul said the same thing: “I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” Knowing God means sharing God’s pain. In Six Prayers God Always Answers Jennifer Schuchmann and I suggest that God and justice are inseparable.  One cannot be known without the other. Here’s an excerpt.

 

The ancient Hebrew Scriptures often equate God with justice saying “The Lord is known by his acts of Justice” that he “loves justice,” everything he does is just, and that he is a “God of justice.” God cares about justice and he personally experiences the pain of injustices in the world. God is no neutral bystander.

 

The emotion of anger by itself isn’t the problem. The problem comes when we believe we know the just outcome. But we can’t ever know what is the best course of action–what is truly just–because we aren’t God.

 

His nature means that he must also be the administrator of justice. When I sharpen my flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I will take revenge on my enemies and repay those who reject me.

 

The Jewish philosopher, Abraham Heschel, the standard of justice is not some abstract exemplar, but rather the very voice of God.

Justice is not an ancient custom, a human convention, a value, but a transcendent demand, freighted with divine concern. It is not only a relationship between man and man, it is an act involving God, a divine need . . . It is not one of His ways, but all of His ways. Its validity is not only universal, but also eternal . . . God’s concern for justice grows out of his compassion for man. The prophets do not speak of a divine relationship to an absolute principle or idea, called Justice. They are intoxicated with the awareness of God’s relationship with His people and to all men.

 

Like God, we need to move beyond the anger to feel the pain of injustice.  Gary A. Haugen is president of the International Justice Mission in Washington, D.C. As director of the United Nations genocide investigation in Rwanda, Haugen’s job was to sort through dead bodies and collect evidence of the crimes that took place in an effort to prosecute the offenders. In his book, Good News About Injustice, he writes:

 

In Rwanda, where I had to bear the burden of digging through the twisted, reeking, remains of horrific mass graves, I tried to imagine, for just a minute, what it must have been like for God to be present at each of the massacre sites as thousands of Tutsi women and children were murdered. Frankly, the idea was impossible to bear. But the thought led me to imagine what it must be like for God to be present, this year, at the rape of all the world’s child prostitutes, at the beatings of all the world’s prisoners of conscience, at the moment the last breath of hope expires from the breast of each of the millions of small children

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