Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Justice

You’re Not the First Person to Ask

Faith Doubt QuestionsWe’ve All Got Questions

We all have questions we’d like answers to. But sometimes the questions we have of God can be the scariest to ask: we want to be reverential, not blasphemous. What if the question offends God?

More than that, deep-down we can be kind of afraid that there is no answer. What would that mean for our faith?

For some, the persistent presence of questions unasked has been a catalyst to their rejecting or abandoning of the Christian faith all together. That need not be so. In fact, the people in the Bible — those God uses to write his very word! — often asked the toughest questions of all.

Have you read them?

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We Wait Patiently for Justice

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.

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A Thought on Imprecatory Psalms

Imprecatory Psalms are those Psalms we have in the Bible where the psalmist calls out for God’s judgement and curses on those who have done evil. The perpetual problem for Christians is, ‘How do we take these Psalms? Do we still use them? Can we really say these things about people? Are we supposed to desire God’s judgement on others?’

These are tough questions, indeed, and this is a topic that deserves far more thought than I’ll give it today. But in my own meditation this afternoon I’ve realized this:

Because God is righteous judge, who is altogether just, it is never wrong for us to long for justice.

Our problem, however, is that we don’t know what justice is.

Sure, we think we do. But the reality is that what we think of when we think of justice generally has more to do with what assuages our sense of ‘wrongness’ than it does with what establishes God’s ‘rightness’.

The downfall of simply thinking in imprecatory categories for those who work evil is that we’re all workers of evil. All of us have sinned and deserve God’s judgement. Any good in us is only because of the image of God impressed on us and the grace of God worked in our hearts. Any sense of justice we have is only present because God has given it to us. How then can we boast about our righteousness and another’s evil and long for them to be judged when we too deserve to be judged?

Ultimately, we must all beg mercy from God–yes, for the evil we’ve committed, but also because we don’t know what his justice established would really look like. Who could have guessed that he would use a cross to show his righteousness (Rom 3.21-26)? Who could have guessed that the innocent being slaughtered for the guilty would accomplish perfect justice (2 Cor 5.21; 1 John 2.2)?

Can I pray that someone would be damned?

It seems that the better question would be, ‘How can I pray for God’s justice to be shown?’ If David prayed for God’s justice, if Jesus came to accomplish God’s justice, and if God was so determined to show his justice that he crushed his Son, then I should be concerned with seeing it accomplished too. But I need to pray with humility. The cross, like nothing before, shows me that I understand very little of the vastness and comprehensiveness and complexity of God’s judgement–and his passion for showing mercy even in the midst of judgement. That’s a vastness, comprehensiveness, and complexity that I don’t get.

So we must be cautious. Pray for justice, yes, we must! But presuming to know what that justice looks like is a far bigger step. For now I’ll pray that God would cause his name to be revered as holy (Matt 6.9) however he sees fit, whether in the damnation or salvation of a particular sinner, I cannot know.

Why Do You Hide Yourself, God?

50 MILLION REMEMBERED — The Memorial to the Missing at the Baptist Building stands in mute testimony to the 50 million lives that have been lost to legalized abortion since 1973. Each penny in the Memorial represents one of the 50 million babies that has been killed since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state abortion laws and opened the door to abortion nationwide during the entire nine months of pregnancy. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.)

50 MILLION REMEMBERED — The Memorial to the Missing at the Baptist Building stands in mute testimony to the 50 million lives that have been lost to legalized abortion since 1973. Each penny in the Memorial represents one of the 50 million babies that has been killed since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state abortion laws and opened the door to abortion nationwide during the entire nine months of pregnancy. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.)

The heading for Psalm 10 in the ESV reads, ‘Why Do You Hide Yourself?’ As I read through this Psalm the other morning, I couldn’t help but lament the millions of babies lost over the years before ever taking their first breath.

If there was ever a time for Christians to sing imprecatory psalms, it is when considering horrific photos like this one; when we come face to face with the reality of the consequences of the lawmakers, politicians, policy-makers, doctors, and propagandists who lead our people into such abominable sin.

Psalm 10

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.

The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.
Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Father, forgive me for not caring that you call yourself the ‘helper of the fatherless.’ Forgive me for not making a difference. Is my sin of silence–when I know better–not also an abomination in your sight?

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