Something I needed to hear…[again!]

Posted on February 21, 2012 by


The gospel overcomes vengeance by promising that justice will be done.

One of the emotional boosters behind our judicial sense is that justice must be done, especially when our rights are denied. And when it looks like justice will not be done to us, we feel the need to take matters into our hands and exact vengeance.

To this impulse, the gospel comes with a double message. All wrongs in the world will be punished justly, either on the cross (for the wrongdoers who trust Christ) or in hell (for the wrongdoers who don’t). “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head’” (Rom. 12:19–20).

What God is telling us is that forgiveness and love do not mean the perpetrators get away with their abuses and injustices. They don’t. If they come to faith in Christ, their sins will be covered by his blood. But if they do not come to Christ, their sins will come on their own head, and God will see that justice is done. In this way, a life of love and forgiveness—a life of treating bad people better than they deserve—is not a foolish life. God’s mercy and vengeance frees us from the soul-destroying bitterness of hatred and anger and blaming and vengeance. It makes us merciful without making us naïve about evil.

This effect of the gospel of Christ would transform the world of race and ethnicity more than we can imagine. Who can begin to describe the possibilities of reconciliation and harmony where the work of Christ replaces hatred with love, anger with patience, and blaming with forgiving, and all of this without surrendering a passion that justice must be done?

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