Do you recall the old Coke commercial where they used these song lyrics: “What the world needs now, is love”? The world does need love, especially now in this time of anger, fear, and division. But whose love does it need?
This question and its answer relate to how we ought to solve our issues.
Do we rely on social justice which is an outside approach using government programs and incentives to try and change beliefs? These programs reward certain ways of thinking or acting and punish those who are unwilling to conform to the latest standards. Programs that force compliance lead to censorship and the muting of dissension. It may create a more fair workplace or access to services but it doesn’t change the hearts and minds of people. In fact, it creates the opposite. Resentment builds and the idea that the government is showing favouritism can arise. People comply because they have to not because their heart and mind agree with it.
There must be a better way. Maybe this is where love comes into the picture. Social justice programs only change circumstances not beliefs.
What if there was a way in which people’s hearts and minds could change so that they would love one another and not be angry with and fearful of each other?
Human love can only carry us so far. When we perceived that we are targeted by government programs as the bad guy, it is hard to love those who the government sees as the good guy. The problem is one of focus. Social justice programs focus on the injustice and tells us who is to blame and what has to change. It is inherently problem focused with the idea to simply changing the power balance.
Here is a better way. Biblical justice is a better way. In fact, it is the best way.
Whoa! I can hear the protesting already!
Often when we think of Biblical justice we think of Sodom and Gomorrah or the flood or the plagues of Egypt. These events make Biblical justice seem harsh or extreme. The reality is that these things were judgment due to sin. The justice was that Lot and his family were saved. Noah and his family were safely on the ark. The Israelites were set free from hundreds of years of slavery.
God is love.
God changes us from the inside out. For example, once you become a child of God you begin to take on the nature of God. You don’t become God but you transform in the inside and you start to no longer see others as their circumstance. The poor man is not a lazy bum but a man who is poor. That loud child next door is a girl and not just a brat. The people in need of justice are loved just as much as you are and the people hurting them were created by the same God who created you.
Your world changes but not because of some external force. It changes because your heart changes. This is love. This is Biblical justice.
Biblical justice is not the fire and brimstone and you are going to hell speeches of street corner evangelism nor is it the legalistic judgments made by some. These are simply reflections of social justice and are examples of trying to scare or shame people into accepting Christ. They are from the outside in.
The absolute best example of true Biblical justice is the cross. This is where justice and love meet. Justice means that sins will not go unpunished in a similar way that crime ought not to go unpunished. Love is the means for forgiveness of sins so that we who sin do not receive that punishment. Jesus paid our price for our sin. My sin and your sin. Justice was served because sins did not go unpunished. Love was served because Jesus provided salvation. This great gift is available for everyone. All you have to do is to receive it. You will be changed from the inside out and begin to see yourself and others much differently through the eyes of love.
This is the better way. This is Biblical justice.
Andy Becker is a retired counsellor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. Andy and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministry in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest areas. He is a retired counselor, speaker, and writer. Andy Becker is working on his second book about spiritual warfare. His first book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.