Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday and Justice

Good Friday is about justice.

The price Jesus paid on the cross for all mankind is the result of pure justice.  Justice demands that a price be paid for sin, in order to be in relationship with a Holy God.  But perfect love and grace causes that same Holy God to pay the price for sin. (Rom. 3: 23-26)  Justice matters to God, but so does His grace and love.

However, the trial and execution of Jesus Christ is also about a travesty of justice.  He was improperly accused, improperly adjudicated, unrepresented, and improperly punished.  Christians believe that the crucifixion was preordained before the foundations of the earth were laid, and such a spectacle could only happen through injustice and fear.  But the trial of Christ is not an example of people acting justly toward each other.

Two-thousand years later, does justice matter to you?  The Lord requires us to be just.  Micah 6:8 states, "What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (NRSV)

In this Easter season, may we remember the importance of justice, the cost of injustice, and mostly, to appreciate Jesus for sacrificing Himself to fulfill perfect justice and perfect love at the same time. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Sacredness of Work

"The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is - what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used."  - C.S. Lewis, A Preface to 'Paradise Lost'

Christians too often view our work and the work around us as a secular act, having nothing to do with our faith, unless we are working directly for or on behalf of some "ministry" or "church."  But nothing could be further from the truth.

God sees our work as sacred, as long as we understand that we are doing it glory of the Lord (Martin Luther once said, “A dairymaid can milk cows to the glory of God.”).  And I am pleased to give a hat tip to the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics for the video they released this week on this topic:

So to get back to the C.S. Lewis quote, what and how do you think you and your work is meant to be used?  Have you submitted your work to the Lord, or have you just assumed Christianity is only for Sundays?  Do you realize your work is sacred?  If not, it is time.

Christians need to stop drudging through the days of work and labor, waiting for an opportunity to engage in God's work.  While God, meanwhile, is waiting for you to allow Him to be engaged in the work He has given you.

So in conclusion, I will offer a quote from John Piper's book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (which I found while reading Redeeming Law by Michael Schutt): "God is not looking for people to work for Him but people who let Him work mightily in and through them..."

Are you ready?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Judges and Delusions of Grandeur

Attorneys will often whisper their suspicions about any given judge, before whom they appear, as having delusions of grandeur.  They are wise enough not to express their opinions aloud, as judges often have long memories.

It is a disappointing spectacle, however, when a judge truly begins to have delusions of grandeur and begins to act as if they have powers beyond that of a public servant who should be dispensing justice.  Over the past week, I have become aware of two cases where it is apparent that the robes are starting to affect the thinking of the judges.

The first case, which is now on appeal in the 7th Circuit, is Eagle Cove Camp & Conference Center v. the Town of Woodboro (in Wisconsin).  It is a case where a family is trying to build a Bible camp on their land.  It includes a long and convoluted exchange with the county and the zoning board.  However, it is the finding in the U.S. District court for the Western District of Wisconsin, where Judge William Conley went beyond his capacity.

The judge speculates “whether plaintiffs’ utter lack of success to date is God’s way of telling them—through admittedly-imperfect, secular institutions—to look elsewhere for a more acceptable location."  He did , however, admit that "[U]ltimately, only God knows if they should continue to knock at this particular door or look for an open window somewhere else.”  The judge writes as if he is able to ascertain the will of God, which must of course always fall on the side of victory in his thinking.  It is truly a shocking passage in the opinion.  Thankfully, the martyrs of the church did not see the will of God as only being on the side of the victors.

The second example has received a fair amount of press.  The esteemed Justice Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit got into a hollering match with an attorney representing Notre Dame.  The college objects to having to pay for contraception under the H.H.S. Mandate for religious reasons.  Judge Posner berated the lawyer during the argument, and he ultimately ruled against the college.

It hasn't been noticed or reported, but the arrogance of that opinion is summed up in one line, "[T]he accommodation in this case consists in the organization's (that is, Notre Dame's) washing its hands of any involvement in contraceptive coverage."

Not only did the judge rule against the college, but requires them to be Pontius Pilate as before Christ and just wash their hands of the whole thing.  As in Pilate's situation 2000 years ago, the washing of hands does not dismiss the utter lack of justice either then or here.  Someone might want to remind Posner of that fact.  And for him to require the college to be Pilate is adding insult to injury, showing a level of Biblical mockery that is again shocking. 
The prophet Micah tells us what the Lord requires of us: do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.  In the case of these two judges, they must have been reading an abridged version:  do justice....God.