Flies on a Corpse
It seems strange that as Christians who celebrate the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone (JFA), we have historically been so impotent to bring justice to our own families, churches, neighborhoods and cities. The doctrine of JFA means that God does not wait for us to be good, honest, clean or hard working before He overwhelms us with his favor. He looks down on our train wreck lives and wicked hearts and smiles. He rolls up his sleeves and gets busy with us even while we are dead in our trespasses and sins, when we are kicking and screaming like an ignorant, snot-faced toddler. This is God’s justice; his righteousness is saving us from our sins, our guilt, our families, our selves, and giving us a new life through the Holy Spirit which re-creates us and enables us to be re-creators in our homes, communities, and neighborhoods. This means that to be champions of God’s grace, to be Truly Reformed, Truly clinging to Christ in whom we have Justification, we must be extending this same kind of justice to our families, neighbors, co-workers, and even (perhaps especially) our enemies.
This means that the drunk upstairs, the jerk boss, your nagging wife, the bratty kid down the street, your strict parents, the pot-head across the street, your demanding child, and the chain smoking single mom who watches Soaps all day are opportunities for you to display justice. The justice of God is not “getting what you deserve” otherwise we are all damned. The justice of God is getting mercy and love and favor even when we are sick, worthless, and belligerent enemies. It is not justice to shove a tract into someone’s hand and hope for the best. It is not justice to ignore the person right and front you and hope to pray for them later. This is why James says that merely saying some kind of trite “hope you feel better” while doing nothing for their actual situation is dead faith. And James ties this directly to the doctrine of Justification. He says that dead faith does not justify because it is not clinging to the justice of God in Christ. Dead faith is a filthy corpse (Js. 2:14-26). In other words, ignoring the needs right in front you is a form of injustice. Yeah, there’s a lot of injustice in the world, and we are the problem.
Of course all justice must be sought with great wisdom and discernment, but inaction is not the answer. Glib expressions and good intentions are just flies on a cadaver. There’s something moving alright, but it ain’t the stiff.