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Crying For Justice In An Unjust World

Crying for Justice in an Unjust World

“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and will execute justice for the needy.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.”
Psalm 140:12-13

A couple of weeks ago, a young man named Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in a quiet neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia after being chased and confronted by a father and son who saw him enter and leave a house under construction.

Running down the street after looking around inside the empty property, Ahmaud saw a pickup truck — which had passed him moments before, the driver shouting for him to stop — parked on the side of the road, with a man standing in the street aiming a gun at him, a second man in the bed of the truck with another gun.

I’m certain he was filled with terror. I’m certain he felt hunted. I’m certain he felt trapped.

And so Ahmaud acted.

“Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net;
beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah
I say to the Lord, You are my God;
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!”
Psalm 140:4-6

The next minute, the young man lay dead in the street.

tears falling from someone's eyes

The story shook me from the lull of my comfortable life, reminding me that death comes unexpectedly and by many means, often by the actions of wicked men. And I don’t simply mean wicked in their actions, but wicked in their hearts, down in the places no one sees, from where our actions and decisions flow.

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts,
sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness,
deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:21-23

There is not one of us alive who does not harbor darkness in the corners of our own hearts, darkness we may yet be unaware of.

Darkness that unexpectedly bubbles to the surface in a moment of weakness and leads us to sin and destruction, even death.

Three men set out that beautiful February morning on paths they never anticipated would end with someone’s death. Three men made decisions that ended with one of them irrevocably dead: a young man who left his loved ones that morning for a jog through a neighborhood. A young man whose family and friends expected to see him again soon. A young man filled with terror as he was chased and now confronted by two strangers holding guns on him.

And my heart, in unison with the hearts of thousands here on earth and in the heavens, cries out to God for justice.

“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and will execute justice for the needy.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.”
Psalm 140:12-13

For now — as we await God’s justice — we entrust earthly justice to the American judicial system, as flawed as it may be. Any court instituted and ruled by man can only be expected to deliver imperfect justice. Innocent men are sometimes convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, and wicked men often go free.

“Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice,
even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness,
even there was wickedness. I said in my heart,
God will judge the righteous and the wicked,
for there is a time for every matter and for every work.”
Ecclesiastes 3:16-17

It is right to pursue justice for all and to stand against wickedness, to change broken systems and enact new, better laws, and to uphold those systems and laws which protect us from being overrun by the wickedness hiding in the hearts of man.

But we must resist the temptation to place our hope in our own works, in our own systems of power and authority, lest we be overcome with hopelessness as we fight “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) As long as this earth remains, the spiritual forces of evil will not rest, and even our best works of justice cannot overcome them.

So as we rightly pursue earthly justice for all, those of us who have professed faith in Christ must look to Him and judge ourselves not by man’s law, but by God’s perfect law, which we break again and again, beginning in our hearts. We must acknowledge and confess our sin against God wherever we fail and fall short, which is in every way. We must repent, and then bear the fruit of authentic repentance, which is a changed heart toward our sin — a despising of our sin.

A heart changed by repentance produces greater and deeper love not just for God, but for our neighbor. A repentant heart bent on pursuing God seeks not only what is good for him, but what is good for his neighbor.

And finally, we must place our hope in the promised perfect justice of God, in whom there is no darkness. Our solace is found not in man’s justice, but in the righteous justice of God. He alone executes perfect judgment, not lacking in wisdom or knowledge, and always full of compassion and mercy.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God,
for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’
To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty,
give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning
coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord.”
Romans 12:19-21

“And I heard the altar saying,
‘Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!'”
Revelation 16:7

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with us all.

~::~

Heavenly Father, we know the enemy of our souls patiently awaits opportunity to exploit our wickedness, not only to cause pain and suffering, but worse, to make mockery of You and Your people when we proclaim Your goodness. So help us, Lord, while we wait for You and Your righteous and perfect justice to come. Help us to be like Jesus as we seek justice and work on Your behalf to correct oppression here on earth. Give us the heart and mind of Christ, with the ability to forgive even those who seek our harm. Keep us from evil, Lord. Through the ministry of Your Word and Your Spirit, show us the wickedness in our own hearts, so we may repent and put the deeds of our flesh to death, giving the enemy no foothold to make mockery of You through our sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


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