What is Biblical justice? How does it make sense in modern terms? How does God view earthly justice versus heavenly justice? How should? Let’s talk about it.
George Floyd’s Justice on Earth
George Floyd was an image-bearer. He was beloved by God, created in His image and his death was a horrific act of violence and sinful human nature. It was murder. Maybe not premeditated or intended, but murder is what it was. Yesterday, the man who killed him was found guilty of that murder. And we know that means earthly justice will now be served. It doesn’t bring him back. It doesn’t ease the pain of his family, or the nation, but earthly justice does matter.
Just to be clear, the definition of justice is simply that someone gets what they deserve. Maybe justice can sound cold sometimes. After all, we know that Derek Chauvin is also an image-bearer. God loves him too. But the Bible makes it clear that God IS just. In Isaiah and other places He says “I am a God of justice” and we as Christians are commanded to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression” in Micah 6:8.
Sometimes I think Christians are so focused being “nice” or showing love that they forget Biblical calls to truth, goodness and justice. You can show love and still speak truth. You can show love and still pursue justice.
I spoke with Rachel Denhollander last year on the podcast. She called me out when I tearily brought up her declaration of forgivness and hope of salvation for her abuser, Larry Nassar. It’s not that she didn’t mean what she said, but she rightly noted she had spent the vast majority of her speaking time advocating that he get what he deserve for his crimes, which was the full sentence. She pursued full Biblical and earthly justice and authentic Christian love at the same time.
We know that justice flows from the heart of God — and it reflects His character as consistent throughout the Bible.
3 Things We Know About Biblical Justice
1. It reflects the heart of God. Over and over God promises justice and commands us to pursue it.
2. We are called to do justice to those around us. Justice is not just repaying wrongs, but also ensuring that the most vulnerable among us are able to live well, provided for, respected, upheld because they ARE God’s image bearers.
3. If our faith is healthy, justice will be a natural effect. Tim Keller says, “yes, our sins are put on Jesus, but his Righteousness is put on us.” If we are Christians, pursuing justice is not a choice, it’s an innate characteristic of the heart of God that lives within us. If we are not concerned with justice for the widow, the orphan, there is something spiritually wrong with us!
It’s not a happy day, but it is a day of justice. Just like Rachel prayed that her abuser would find Jesus, I pray that Chauvin would find Him too. I pray that George Floyd knew Him already — and that his family is touched by God in a way they never would have been otherwise. God can to incredible things through awful circumstances. I think we an see how He is allowing justice to prevail here and now.