Justice does not come quickly. The righteous answer is not always the obvious one. And, quite frankly, you’re not always the judge and you don’t always have the clarity you think you do. That’s why, biblically, every matter must be established by two or three witnesses and it must have a due process.
Tim Challies wrote what ended up being a pretty controversial post on patiently waiting for justice to be done in the matters relating to Sovereign Grace Ministries. He pointed out that we are to love, hope all things, wait until the matter is fully heard, and entrust justice to those authorities appointed by God. Even in the cases where there is alleged sexual abuse and alleged cover-ups.
For some, that was asking too much. Apparently, for a Christian seeking justice, we don’t need such waiting games. ‘The powerful are hiding and maneuvering to oppress the victims,’ we are told, ‘and therefore we ought to stand up for the victims.’
Rachel Held Evans, in her response to Challies, made it clear that the obligation of the church in seeking justice is the protection of the weak rather than the strong:
As Christians, our first impulse should be to protect and defend the powerless, not the powerful.
But that’s not right. And as much as many may hate the word, it’s simply not biblical. The biblical principle of justice is the very thing Tim was arguing for. Listen to Moses explain it three times: 1
“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.” (Exodus 23.1-3)
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19.15)
You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s.’ (Deut 1.17)
Again, speaking to those who are outside the immediate circle and, frankly, do not know what happened, I would argue with Tim: let the process of justice by the authorities work. That’s why God put them in place to begin with (Rom 13.1-7).
If God will work justice in this life through this situation (since eschatological justice is never in doubt), then it will be through the authorities he has put in place. Not through vigilante bloggers who think they know more than they probably do and consider reading a few websites as good as conducting a court case.
And, of course, this is a truth that applies in so many more contexts than just the Sovereign Grace instance. So often we think we know justice and if it were just left up to us, we could accomplish it right now!
But true justice is slow. We must be patient. Sometimes it never comes in this life. But isn’t that why we’re thankful for the gospel? The gospel accomplishes our own forgiveness for sins (including our rash judgements), but it also means that Jesus, having conquered his enemies, will return to restore this creation and reign on earth in perfect justice.
And the call of every believer since Abraham has been to wait patiently on God’s promises, believing that he who is faithful as the Judge of all the earth will ultimately do what is right.
- Note that in each of these contexts, judgement is already assumed to be handed over to the God-ordained authorities, rather than to the ‘mob’ who cries ‘justice!’ ↩