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Posts Tagged ‘justification’

The Enliven Project (on sexual violence)

The Enliven Project (on sexual violence)

There’s a part of me that appreciates the anger and determination to make things right after the rape of Dinah. In today’s news, there was a report on the percentage of rapes reported out of a 1000 (5-25%), prosecuted (9 – not percent, but a number), and of the 9, only 5 become felony convictions. (See Enliven Project) And yet. . .

Genesis 34: 13a, 15, 25

Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully . . . We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males. . . .  Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.

And this is always the challenge when confronting our personal sense of betrayal with God’s. It’s not that God cannot work decisively in the face of evil (note Sodom and Gomorrah), but the point here is that God prefers having the vindication God’s way.

“But, but, but” I say, “Your way is so slow. I want to see the revenge. I want to feel it. I want to bathe in it. It’s my right. Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Is it?”

When humans take on the role of avenger, we tend to overdo it. After 9/11, we raped a country in the name of weapons of mass destruction. And in the end, more were lost, including our own. Evil is portrayed throughout history and every push back takes us one more step closer to annihilation. Soon, I’m sure, the next payback will be nuclear. And what then?

Whether it’s on a world scale or a personal exoneration, we will not handle it well. Even our court system has gotten all muddled up and in the name of fairness, the guilty go free because one lawyer was craftier than the other.

We are all still living Romeo and Juliet or the Hatfields and McCoys.

Yesterday, my pastor at Restore Church, talked about people being the “Sin Police.” We judge and demand, we compare and we condemn. All in the name of righteousness. It’s not a good plan.

Will God avenge the good? Is God sovereign? Can God operate even in this mucked up generation? I believe. But I have to make room for the ways of God.

“There is a way that seems right to a man [human], but in the end it leads to death.” [Proverbs 14:12]

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Why is peace so elusive? Positionally, I should be good. And I certainly have faith in God. But peace of heart and mind eludes me more often than not.

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . .

What challenges my peace? I think it’s my over committed mind. I fill my days with so much activity, how can I expect to experience peace with God? I’m so good at “doing” while I’m terrible at “not doing.” I mean purposefully choosing to be quiet, to be still, to commune with the Holy Spirit.

I used to go away for a long weekend to All Saints Convent, just to be still. But I confess, the first day, I usually slept most of the time. My mind tends to be like a light switch: on or off. And when it’s off, I crash.

Oh I know that “peace with God” is not just being still. It has to do with relationship. That I am not in an adversarial relationship with God because of my faith in Jesus who opened the door to the inner sanctuary. But, all the same, how often do I really walk deeply into that sanctuary?

Having access to a place is one thing but actually using the ticket to go in is another.

It’s like going to the health club … or rather, not going. I paid the money up front and I was given cart blanche to use the facilities anytime. And I started out great but eventually, I lost my momentum. Other new activities take away my time. And soon, I’ve disconnected from both the routine and the desire to go.

Theoretical “peace with God” is useless. It’s experiential “peace with God” that can enhance my daily life. Oh heart, seek peace and dwell there.

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Justice has gotten pretty fuzzy in our current culture. How often do the guilty go free if they simply have a good lawyer? How can we expect a modern world to connect to the concept of God’s justice and actually appreciate true mercy and atonement?

Romans 3:25
God presented him [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, . . . to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished . . .

Even in Bible times, the Apostle Paul spent a lot of his time convincing people that the long-awaited Messiah had arrived in Jesus of Nazareth. But the Jews had built an entire culture and way of life around the observance of “law” and a complex set of requirements to exact justice with various acts and sacrifices. Did they really believe the Messiah would come or had they put the idea so far into the future that such a reality was unimaginable?

In essence, no matter when the Messiah would appear, the prophecies promised that his arrival would wipe out the old ideology and replace every sacrifice, every payment, and every atoning act, with his own blood. It would change everything. Justice would have new meaning.

If they had accepted the “fact” of a Messiah then, their entire temple system would have been obliterated in a single day. Is there any wonder the priests and accompanying temple staff were resistant? Their livelihood, their routines, and all of their traditions were in danger of collapse if they accepted this man Jesus as the Messiah.

To accept the atoning act of the Messiah is to have faith in a new execution of justice. To appropriate the ultimate sacrifice/justice of the Messiah requires a person’s confession of sin and lawbreaking.

Unlike a court of law where the defendant is trying to convince everyone that he/she didn’t really “do it,” this court is strictly for those willing to say, “guilty as charged.” And through that personal confession of guilt, suddenly, there is mercy and grace in a way that is beyond our understanding.

This is justice without fear. This is justice married to mercy. This is justice covered by love. Thanks be to God for the Anointed One whose sacrifice made it possible for me to live under a banner of justification.

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