3.02.2006

Justice and Grace

This is a follow up to the Christian Service post a few days back.
I am trying to get a handle on what the relationship between justice and grace is supposed to be for the Christian. We are called to both love justice and be full of grace, yet grace overrides justice in some sense. We might think that we ought to always pursue grace, but this does not seem right. It seems at least that when we are looking out for others we ought to seek justice for them. We are to seek justice for the widow and orphan. Are we to seek grace instead for their oppressor? Perhaps this is the best approach -- the others-centered default approach:
To seek justice for others, but not for oneself; and to seek grace for one's oppressors but not for the oppressors of others. (perhaps there is some parallel with forgiveness here)
I don't know. This is tough. I would appreciate thoughts.

3 comments:

Rob said...

i'm not sure about giving grace to the oppressor of the poor and widow - or for that matter, governments like those in sudan. i would let God do more of that. just my personal view.

danny boy said...

I'm not sure grace and justice are complete polars of each other, at least not to the point of being a mutually exclusive choice. Perhaps the two are best wedded together, and just preserved in a healthy tension. I think it's still good to seek justice for oneself - ie. if I'm falsely accused of robbing a bank, instead of simply resigning my personal rights and accepting wrong judgment, I ought to seek justice. Biblically, I don't think Christians are called to be doormats, but there is a radical "othersness" to the outworking of faith. In the same vein, I think we should exhibit and extend grace to everyone, but not necessarily meaning we trump justice. Maybe I'm just being too dodgy here and using these terms is a slippery way, but I think it'd probably be wrong to dismiss either one for the sake of the other.

jon said...

Rob, I agree. I'm just having a hard time fitting it all into a formula. That's why I'm interested in the forgiveness parallel. Forgiving the oppressor of others is in a way outside our abilities since they have not directly wronged us.
Danny, I think your right that grace isn't the polar opposite of justice. Justice seems to be a bigger concept in that where there is justice there could not always be grace. I think your false accusation case is such an example. But I do think that grace, when it is enacted, must oppose justice in some sense. This seems true by definition.