Paper Pt IV: Justice and Purpose

Kingdom Purpose: Justice and God’s Good Desire

We see in the opening verses of scripture the repeated refrain, “God said” and, “God saw that it was good.”3 This is the opening salvo in God’s Kingdom story; the Kingdom project begins with creation. God creates a world of marvelous diversity; creative explosions of sound, smell, and color; a wonderful harmony and plentiful provision abound. God’s creative activity realizes His goodness, and His desire for goodness.

This same creative goodness is revealed under different circumstances in the second great Kingdom initiative; God calls Abram from the ranks of sinful humanity and makes a deal with him. God promises to bless him, but also to bless the whole world through him; “I will bless you, and you will be a blessing.”4 The Kingdom project goes forward in Jesus. He fulfils Israel’s calling on her behalf, redeems Adam’s humanity; and initiates a new covenant community on the earth.

The Church lives in the tension of proclaiming the Kingdom promise in the midst of a broken creation. We embrace the vision and mission of the God “who is over all and through all and in all,”5 to “place all things under (Jesus) feet.”6 This is the prophetic future of the New Jerusalem in John’s vision where every wound is healed. This consummates the Kingdom story; it is the ultimate goal of God’s Kingdom project.

31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Acts 17:31

It is in this context that we can begin to talk about justice. Something is just when it can be truly said, “and God saw that it was good.” We tend to think of justice in terms of the great problems and evils in the world (in a world broken by Adam’s rebellion this is proper), however, justice has more to do with the way things ought to be, than with the way things are. It is the brokenness of man that required Jesus’ death to undo, and it is the resurrection of Jesus that gives us the foretaste of the New Creation, where judgment will be past tense, and justice will be reality.

Justice is rooted in God’s desire to manifest goodness, and so in the context of a “creation subjected and in bondage to decay”7 we see justice spoken of in the scriptural promises of Creation and New Creation, and in the language of future Resurrection and Judgment; where all wrongs are made right, and we will share in the new heaven and the new earth.

Justice, then, is simply the state of ‘goodness’ that is a reality when God’s rule is implemented. In the now, and in the not yet, justice is simply a description of the state of individuals, situations, societies, and systems that have come under the good authority of Jesus the King. We turn now to a discussion of that authority at work.


Josh Hopping said...

Love the line: "...justice has more to do with the way things ought to be, than with the way things are." Beautifully said.

"In the now, and in the not yet, justice is simply a description of the state of individuals, situations, societies, and systems that have come under the good authority of Jesus the King."

hmm...you may address this later on in your paper, but this phrase leaves things pretty wide open. As in, one could argue that the only way to 'come under' Jesus' authority is to open the literal interpretation of the Bible.

In addition, I'm not quite sure why you quoted Acts 17:31 as it doesn't seem to fit. I think it would flow better with out it. =/

Josh Hopping said...

I guess I should elaborate a bit more on my comment about coming under Jesus' authority.

To me, this means allowing God to make the decision about what is 'good' and 'bad'. As King this kind of decision is His alone - we (humanity) are not suppose to be the one's deciding what is right and wrong.

In a practical sense, this means listening to the Spirit in each situation as there is no 'blanket' answer. It also means understanding the 'whys' in the Bible. Or in other words, I feel that we should enter into the story of the Bible and try to understand why God told the people XYZ instead of simply taking XYZ at face value and applying it to our lives.

Again, you may already be planning on addressing this later on in the paper (or you may be hoping that the folks at SVS already have this understanding). This is just my first thoughts upon reading that selection.

Steve S. said...

I think the Acts passage gets at the same thing as the quote...

Jesus is going to make everything the way it is supposed to be. Everything.

The issue of Scripture's role in the process of judgment is an important question, but not one that has to be brought into it just yet. Before you get to 'what Jesus wants and how do I know,' you have to start with 'submitting to Jesus no matter what He wants.'

It is this submission that I was pointing towards with the quote. When someone or something has been brought to this place of submission, then it is being 'judged with justice' before the 'appointed day.'

But regardless of whether or not we sign up for justice now there is a day when Jesus will bring it...