The constant cry for justice in our times is tiresome and boring. Like my six-year-old’s toy train’s sounds, they were cute at first. After a few hours, they’re just insufferable. The “justice now” train is not going much farther than my son’s convoy tracking around him in circles as he plays on his knees. They, too, are not really trying to get anywhere. They’re just having fun — while annoying the rest of us.
It’s not that there are no injustices in our polity. Injustices are plain for all to see. The problem is that our response to injustices requires us to define justice in the first place. The childish, emotional reactions of today are so confused people cannot see the irony of their unjust responses to injustice.
Fighting evil with evil brings us no benefit. Who cares who wins that fight? We are left with evil either way. It is evident the Apostle Paul was right to encourage us to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, emphasis mine). That is easier said than done. Once again, the challenge of semantics, with its dispassionate demands, must be dealt with if we are to find some solutions.
However, the spirit of this age is particularly dreadful at this most needed of tasks. Having abandoned all objective standards, we find ourselves incapable of defining anything. “Justice,” “evil,” “virtue,” “sin,” what is all this but whatever you opine? Even more basic, what is “man,” “woman,” or even “human”?
The results of our willful blindness have made us insecure — fearful. And fear is the foundation of defeat.
Can you see that? Can you see that the promise of “freedom” and “equality” of those who urge us to abandon objective standards is a lie? Having tasted the rotten fruit of secularism, do you hunger for beauty and wonder, peace and benevolence, stability and truth?
If you do, I suggest you move towards reality. The reality of the human heart is a good starting point. All other things are outside of us and somewhat foreign, but we know our own hearts.
The condition of the human heart is nowhere better dissected than in the Bible. You do not have to believe in God or the inspiration of the Scriptures to see that. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” asks Jeremiah 17:9.
The picture of man’s heart in the Holy Scriptures comports with reality — what we see in ourselves and in those around us. Even the men of God — think David, Moses, or Paul — do despicable things. “[N]o one does good, not even one,” in the language of Romans 3, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (verses 12 and 23).
In this sense, no one can rightly claim the moral high ground.
But if the Scriptures rightly diagnose the human heart, why not consider its other claims? Might they not properly reflect reality, too?
There is no more important claim in Scripture than its solution to the human condition. It is surprisingly verifiable. For the Bible focuses not on philosophical or spiritual proclamations, but on a person — Jesus of Nazareth. More specifically, a real, historical, empirical event in space and time. Namely, His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead.
This Jesus is a problem. You see, his life was remarkable — exemplary, really. Every standard we can think of when it comes to “good” and “just” comes from His example. The Golden Rule, doing unto others as you would have them do to you, is His (Luke 6:31). His was the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). More profound still, He was the personification of those teachings. He lived them.
Jesus was real.
Facing this reality then, what is our response? If, as St. Augustine reminds us, justice demands “giving every man his due,” what is due Jesus? Well, we must make up our minds about Him. Is He the Son of God? He said, “I and the Father are one,” in John 10:30. And, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” in John 14:9.
If this is true, justice demands we give Jesus what is due to God. There can be no justice without Him on the throne.
But this is the very thing the spirit of this age denies: Jesus. It’s Jesus that’s most offensive. Even the abstract idea of “God” is okay, as long as we keep the title open for Muslims, Buddhists, and any others. Jesus’ exclusionary claims, on the other hand, are offensive. Dare we say, “hateful.”
Our predicament is plain to see. We have rejected the very foundations of justice and are surprised when the entire structure comes crumbling down. This is what we are seeing unravel in our streets every day to the bewilderment of all but those holding tightly to that old, ancient script long forgotten by most: The Word of God.