An icy chill. When justice turns to vengeance

I know, from the outset, that some are not going to appreciate this post. I wish I could say I didn’t care, but I do. However, I’m pushing that aside and forging ahead into water I know is laced with mines. I had a responsibility in my last post (I need a new pair of glasses) to write about our obligation to constantly evaluate ourselves in light of our upbringing and presuppositions. I now have an accountability to speak against a very present darkness.

I’ve soaked a lot in over the past months on the topic of race relations, racism and social justice. From the grand jury decisions, the riots and protests in the streets to the dissents on Twitter, it all started out being very intriguing and quickly moved to being very personal. The recent chanting by mobs for the death of cops and the murder of two police officers in NYC are new and horrible twists in the discord. These are deplorable acts. But what I’m most revolted by is the participation and proliferation of this vengeful justice – whether physical or ideological – by “Christians”.

In several recent exchanges, one with a “Christian educator”, I was met head-on with harsh, uncaring and undignified words simply because I was misconstrued. Because I did not share their specific social view - I'm in a learning curve - and “speak their language” I was quickly dismissed from the conversation; blocked from the Twitter feed. It was an icy chill. Why not ask for clarification instead of dismissing me from the conversation table? Why not educate an “ignorant soul” and make a disciple than dismiss a skeptic? Why, because their faith doesn’t allow for conversation. This not only exacerbates volatile issues, it doesn’t aid in the progressing of their agenda. It actually reveals their self-righteousness. Instead of rallying a supporter they acquired a detractor.

Barberries are encapsulated in wintery ice. How we treat others, especially for those who call themselves Christian, can bring warmth and welcome or an icy chill.

I’ve served as a juror on an attempted murder trial. I’ve given testimony in federal court and I’ve been a recipient of race hate, on more than one occasion. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to contemplate what justice should look like. I haven’t always nailed it, but I’m a person who believes in justice, God’s justice. Not, God’s-justice-man’s-way, but God’s-justice-God’s-way. So when I see Christians mishandling and manipulating events to bolster their agenda, jumping on the out-of-tune bandwagon, a question burns in my mind, when does a cry for justice turn into a cry for vengeance? These are the same people who herald Jesus as their God and believe He is love are often the same who fail miserably at treating others as they would want others to treat them. So much for the Golden Rule – it’s a pretty important one and it’s often forgotten.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
— Matthew 7:12

All people fail when they think they deserve something or when one group degrades or devalues others for any reason. I see a camp within evangelicalism, in an effort to forward a social agenda, manipulate situations, overstate Scripture and devalue one group in an attempt to alleviate the pain of another. I believe this is wrong. The sad thing is I first experienced this in the 80s in Miami, Florida. Venomous “Christians” out to win and further their “social crusade”. I just couldn’t side with them physically although I sympathized with some of their frustrations. I’ve come to concede that it’s part of their spiritual DNA and it replicates profusely! Now, I’m all for making a good stand, but when that stance turns into rancorous words and actions, I’m out.

I cannot, as a Christian, condone the violence, looting, and “cry for justice at the expense of others” as do some evangelical Christians. Isn’t this precisely what they’ve been fighting and chanting against? I’ve had this concern from the very beginning and the roots of concern reach deep down nearly 30 years, all the way back to my days in South Florida.

I believe many people are absolutely justified in their cries for justice and true equality. There is significant injustice in our society that greatly grieves the heart of God. But when evangelicals or any slice of the Christian pie make God into their image, twisting sociological issues and the Scriptures to sustain their point, they manufacture an image of God that is skewed, confusing and wrong. I have to admit, I’ve done it and I loath it. This is religion at it’s worst and it’s no better than the violence in Ferguson – both the shooting and the looting - the death in Staten Island or the latest cop slayings in NYC. It’s religious looting and it should be arrested immediately. When we claim to speak for God we’d better work very hard at putting aside our personal ideologies, agendas and peculiarities and represent Him accurately. No one is going to get it spot on all the time, but we’d better be darn close and open to correction.

Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’
— Deuteronomy 32:35

I will offer this challenging thought to you – although it may be hard to imagine God as a god of vengeance, His settling of scores is also uniquely linked and constrained by His holiness, love, justice, righteousness, goodness, peace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and compassion. It’s a combination that we humans just can’t display. So, why can God be a god of vengeance? Because when He does act He does so perfectly. In His time, in His way, always, always offering sufficient opportunity for repentance and forgiveness – ALWAYS! 

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
— 2 Peter 3:9

So, maybe you can ponder this, when does a cry for justice become a cry for vengeance? I think we’re seeing it first-hand and it’s disgusting, isn’t it?