New parents are predictable: they listen intently to capture and recount their toddler’s first word. Momma? Dadda? In your dreams! For many, their first word is part of an outcry: “It’s not fair!”
“Children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.” (G.K. Chesterton). Preschoolers are in search of justice; they have an innate sense of right and wrong. Physical balance makes walking possible; moral balance makes living possible…
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of ‘just’ and ‘unjust?’ A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” (C.S. Lewis)
Life “inside the Beltway” (that’s cultural code for our nation’s capital) has taken a stark turn. Three lists that are renewed daily: 1) people under subpoena; 2) people under indictment; and, 3) people under Twitter. The most Googled federal agency has become the Justice Department, but here’s the disconnect: that ostensibly impartial entity has been charged with corruption, even as they are tasked with the administration of fairness under the law. Can someone say, “Conflict of Interest?”
Do you sense the craziness of today’s culture? The basis for the entertainment industry is the creation of content – music, television programming, movies, live theater – that portrays lifestyles routinely flaunting moral standards with no accountability or consequence, but in their annual awards orgies they call out violations that offend their narrow sense of right-and-wrong. Hypocrisy?
In Washington, the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t frame the operative agenda: “…and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” (Matthew 6:12). The plea suggests equity between pardons sought and pardons granted; if that was the balance point, much of the political drama in the headlines would fade to silence. If acquiring forgiveness required the dispensation of forgiveness, an environment of fairness would settle over the mayhem and innocence would prevail.
It may not seem so, but the charges and countercharges flying across the modern cultural battlefields are really a plea for the Ultimate Solution, promised by the prophets and sought by every generation. Who could satiate this longing? “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1)
Try as we might to elevate the men and women who will ensure the administration of justice after the next election cycle, we come up short. The wellspring for fairness has never changed: “Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.” (Proverbs 29:26) The longing for justice is, in reality, a thirst for God.
Interesting – isn’t it? – that the post-modern rejection of God and godly people is happening alongside the call for justice. The dichotomy is unresolvable.
“Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor. The wicked will see and be vexed, they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.” (Psalm 112)