Monday, February 18, 2008

Do you really want justice?

I was driving home from work the other day when the I heard a short clip from a fellow named Skip Heitzig. Unbeknownest to me, Skip is the Senior Pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque and has a daily radio show called The Connection. All I knew about Skip was that he sometimes was in short segments between songs on the local contemporary Christian music radio station I often listen to. I think these segments are called "Hot Spots."

Well the one that got my attention this day started out with Skip talking about the two relatives of Mercy:

Mercy has two relatives and you will find them in the Bible interacting with one another. Its first relative is Grace. The second relative is Justice.

Skip defines Justice as "getting what you deserve", Mercy as "not getting what you deserve", and Grace as "getting what you don't deserve." That's the kind of definition that I can get a hold of. It makes me think a lot about the concept of fairness.

He points out, "Mercy and Grace have nothing to do with fairness." And that turns out to be a good thing. Over the course of many years as an adult, I grew to dislike fairness. I once thought that if everything in life would be fair, then that would be a perfect world. Well, I grew older and, though some would probably disagree, I grew wiser. I realized that in this world corrupted by sin, that fairness only existed in two forms: Satan's devouring evil and God's judgement.

Satan, as Peter tells us, is after us all equally:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8 - 9, NIV)

And we think of God as being fair in His judgements. But do we really want Him to be? I mean, if Justice is getting what you deserve, I definitely don't want it. As David says in Psalm 143:2

Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. (NIV)

Now we see where the relatives come in to interact with one another. In Psalm 143:1, David pleads with God
O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. (NIV)

There is Mercy right next to cousin Justice. And David is specifically asking to NOT get what he knows he deserves. He asks for Mercy instead of Justice for himself. I have prayed that same basic prayer my whole life...

Now, if those were the only family members (Mercy and Justice) what would we have? Well, some folks would get devoured by the wolf (Justice) and some would not (Mercy). That seems like a pretty bleak existence. Always looking over your shoulder to see if it's your time and always trying to figure out what you can do to warrant some Mercy. I assume it would drive people nuts.

But God didn't leave it at that, did He? No, He introduced the other cousin, Grace. Grace is God's way of giving us what we DO NOT deserve. It's more than Mercy or escape from Justice. As Jesus says in John 10:10:

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (King James Version)

If anyone doesn't deserve that, it is mankind.

Rob Bell, like him or not, gives an illustration of Grace in his book Velvet Elvis:

I was having breakfast with my dad and my younger son. As we were finishing our meal, I noticed that the waitress brought our check, then took it away, and then brought it back again. She placed it on the table, smiled, and said: "Somebody in the restaurant paid for your meal. You're all set." And then she walked away...

That is our invitation... To trust that grace pays the bill.

I trust that Jesus has paid the bill and it is my duty to live that way. To live for Him whose Grace AND Mercy AND Justice are perfect. And to give Him the only thing that I can even offer in return: my life as a living sacrifice to His Glory.


Anonymous said...

i like it dude! our church just went over a sermon topic of the difference between grace and mercy and we just talked about the amazing grace of God. wrap your head around this one:

If there's grace for Judas, there's grace for us!!