Last week a controversial figure passed away. Some saw him as the very definition of hate, others saw him as speaking truth. Many rejoiced in his passing, hoping he would experience the eternal judgment he deserved, expecting justice to be served. A few mourned his death and used it as their own pronouncement of judgment on the rest of us. They are expecting their own form of justice.
There is a thin line between justice and vengeance. Webster’s Dictionary defines both of these words in the following ways:
justice: the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals
vengeance: the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you or someone else
Often times it is easy to confuse the two, thinking that vengeance is really a form of justice. Our world is full of injustices. As Christians we must do everything in our power to fight injustice, to end discrimination, to cast out hate, but attempting to do this while demanding a “pound of flesh” may not be the best way. Let us not confuse justice with vengeance.
If justice is getting what is deserved and grace is receiving that which is undeserved, can justice and grace coexist? Is there a way our justice can also be an extension of grace? Is it possible grace can serve as justice?
The idea of grace is something we want to embrace for ourselves and those we love. The thought of extending grace to the perpetrators of injustice or mouthpieces of hate on the other hand, does not sit well with us. We must shine the light of grace into the darkness of injustice, hate, and fear. This does not abdicate the responsibility of unjust actions but highlights the scandalous nature of grace.
We must always fight for justice; may our weapon of choice be grace.