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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The God of Justice

Sunday afternoon a man broke into our church, stole over $3,000 in cash, checks and stamps, a camera and our music minister's hat. We had to rekey the church since he took keys to the church. Fortunately, our church has video surveillance. Our video revealed him walking down the hall, lurking past people as he took keys and made his way into our offices. It was actually unnerving since we had women who were alone while he hid in the very next room. The guy actually had the nerve to smoke a cigarette while he stole from us!

We called the police who took pictures and finger prints. The next day I discovered him on the video surveillance and made note of when, where and what he had done. The following day I called to get a detective to come see the video. A policeman entered our building a short time after I called. I assumed he was here because of the break-in so I told him about it. However, he was here because of a fender bender in the parking lot. He had been called by one of the church staff. He was the policeman assigned to Princess Anne High. He wanted to see the video so I showed it to him. It is logical to assume that anyone who will break in and steal from a church will do the same to the school next door.

This morning I rode my bicycle to church as I normally do. The robbery was on my mind as I was thinking how we could be more secure. I was especially concerned about the safety of our own people being in corners of the building where they could be attacked. I saw a policeman (the same one who  and the security officer for Princess Anne High School in the church driveway monitoring the school as I rode by.

Then, there, as I rode around to the other side of the building, was our robber trying the doors to get into the building! There was no doubt to his identity since I had watched the video of him robbing us. I asked, "Can I help you?"

He said, "I'm supposed to meet someone about handbells."

I quickly replied, "Oh, I have a key to the other side of the church. I'll go in and walk through and let you in." (Yes, I know I lied. I have already asked the Lord to forgive me.)

I, then, rode around the church, told the policeman and security officer that the robber was on the other side of the building. The policeman took his car while the security officer rode in his golf cart, each taking a different route around the building. As I made my way around I saw the police officer tell the man to put his hands behind his back. He complied. The officer had no doubt who to arrest since he had watched the video with me the day before.

The guy asked, "What am I being arrested for?

"For robbing the church Sunday afternoon," replied the officer.

"I didn't do nothing to the church"

This made me angry and I yelled, "Oh, yes you did! I have you on video!" (Something within me wanted to demand justice.)  This, ended the conversation.

Today, I will sign whatever it takes to have this guy prosecuted. I know we use the word "alleged" when we speak of suspects but I have a hard time using this word. I saw him on the video. I know he did it. There is no reasonable doubt. I believe in justice.

God believes in justice too. He did not allow my sins to go unpaid. He paid for them with the blood of Jesus. I believe in grace. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in justice. They are not incompatible. There are consequences for our sins. Sometimes they are passed on to our children because they do the same things that we do. Sometimes they affect us in different parts of our lives which do not seem to be connected with our sins. The only way of escape is to confess and ask for forgiveness based on the blood of Jesus. And, yes, sometimes we have to make a payment to our society. Satisfying God does not mean that the consequences of our sins disappear.

Honestly, I hope the guy goes to prison so that he won't be able to rob anyone for a long time. I hope that he comes to Christ. I hope that he is cured of any addictions.

Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV) 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."


Anthony Chia said...

Dwelling on a wider scope of the subject …

If God is NOT just, will you follow Him? No, I will NOT. But does justice equate equality? No, God is just, but it does NOT mean that in everything it must be equal for everyone. So, one cannot look over his shoulder and sees that his neighbor is able to play the piano, and say in his heart that it is NOT just of God to have given his neighbor the "music sense" to be able to play the piano, and NOT given him the same.

God may NOT treat everything equally, but He is fair or just; it is just that we do NOT know or have NOT the full story to understand the whole situation. For example, the person, even though he was NOT endowed to play the piano, but he could be mathematically inclined, in other words, he was gifted in mathematics.

Don't be “stuck” with wanting equality from God; there is hardly such a thing; rather Scripture painted ideas of these: godliness with contentment is of great value; God giving to each, gifts, as He decides; we are to be fruitful with whatever little that He has given us; and that sovereignty belongs to God, and He grants mercy and compassion as He decides. The point is that God has the "big picture" while our picture is NOT complete, to know for sure, God is practicing fairness or justice. In other words, we exercise faith that He does, based on His Word that tells us that God is just. Where does it say God is just or God is practicing justice? One declaration is found here:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you (Ps 89:14).

One problem some of us have, is that we are “stuck” with idea that, all that faith is, is that we believe that Jesus died for our sins. Yes, that is faith, and that is commonly called the salvation faith. But faith is also our belief in God’s personhood (e.g. He is God, Creator, King, Father, etc) and His nature-hood attributes (e.g. holiness, righteousness, wisdom, love, faithfulness, etc).

The other dimension of God's justice that we need to understand is that the time of His justice, is decided by Him, NOT us (although we can pray according to our understanding of His will). This means that it is possible God decides to punish someone now, or He can defer it, and He may even let the punishment visit the person's children. Too often we troubled ourselves with “when is God going to punish so and so”; or “how can God punish the person's children instead of the guilty fellow!” We should NOT; rather we need to firmly believe our God is a God of justice; the very foundation of His throne is righteous and justice; or God does NOT let the guilty go unpunished.

Continue on next comment page ...

Anthony Chia said...

COntinue from preceding comment page

If subsequently, a guilty one realizes that he was wrong and guilty, repent and ask for forgiveness, and God, forgives him, it is none of our business; it is His prerogative. The same graciousness of God extended to a penitent one, can possibly be extended to you too, one day; and as to your suffering or loss, He will know how to deal with it if you will work with Him. We need only remember that, in all things (including you being cheated or robbed) God works them for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). So, do NOT waste your energy and do NOT tear your hair out over things that God knows best what to do (Let God be God), instead, we are to get to know God, His ways and commands and instructions, and to love Him and live life according to His purposes for each of us. So what, if God let the punishment go down to the person's child; God knows how to be fair to that child; concentrate on our part, which is to love God, love our neighbor, forgive, and to resist sins.

Some people also are “stuck” with the notion that God is NOT just, in that He loves unequally; "He loves Anthony Chia more than He loves me!" I do NOT believe it is the right idea to think that God love one more than another. Scripture painted for us the picture that He loves men, even while we are yet sinners. The love of God ultimately is governed by such nature of His, like His holiness, righteousness and wisdom. Few people have received the revelation that ultimately God can only love men unto righteousness (`ahab love). When you understand this, and receive it in, you will begin to realize that it is NOT a question of God playing favoritism, but it is whether we are attracting the love of God or we are “repelling” His love. To illustrate, if you remain stubbornly wicked, it is NOT God chooses to withhold His love for you, it is you are making it impossible for God to love you, and NOT to let go to where wicked people go, in the end. Wickedness and holiness just do NOT go together.

Then there is the confusion between favor and love of God. Favor is essentially grace. God may grant me favor when I am, say, doing healing ministry in His name. It is NOT God love me more, and so I am able to be engaged in such a “noble” ministry, and God does NOT love you as much, to have you serve as a church service usher only! It is that we are having different calling (service callings) at this moment, and favor or grace is extended out to us as we exercise faith in the calling that we are in. Another way of putting it, favor or grace is extended to us when we live in faith in accordance with the will of God for our lives. I cannot want to rape a woman, and ask God and expect God to grant me the favor or grace to do something that is NOT within His will for my life.

I have my own fair share of life afflictions and “problems”, which people, unless they are close to me, do NOT know; my life has NOT been and is NOT a bed of roses, but I am learning to be contented and pay more attention to serving Him. On second thought, perhaps it is a bed of roses, for there are thorns coming with the roses; but I take the roses, thanking my God, for His grace is sufficient for me to bear the thorns, remembering the Apostle Paul was told by God that His grace was sufficient for Paul to put up with his thorns.

Catrina said...

Wow! What quick wit you had in that situation. I would not have known what to do! And praise God that no one was physically hurt!