Sunday, August 23, 2009

Justice And/Or Mercy

There is a song by Flyleaf called Justice and Mercy, and from the moment I heard it I was sold. Lyrically, it's empowering. Musically, it's powerful in itself. Theoretically, it's revolutionary. Literally? I'm not so sure. I didn't actually think about or decompose the words 'justice' and 'mercy' until this morning, when Pastor Marvin was talking about 'the demands of justice' versus 'the longings of love'.

Because until now I figured that justice and mercy were attainable concurrently.


People want justice for those who have done them wrong, but mercy for when they themselves do others wrong. It's just so very human.

I'm not a fool. I don't really actually think that justice fully exists. We live in a relatively justice-less world, where getting away with it, whatever 'it' may be, is the only thrill that people want. Getting away with it is pretty simple here, because people have added fluff to justice. Fluffy minimum sentences. Fluffy parole dates. Fluff. Justice is not a fluffy word. It's heavy and it has its own baggage. Justice will condemn a person. Justice will assign and enforce responsibility. Justice will rightfully kill a person.

On the flip side, though, mercy exists a bit. Mercy is the reason that justice is so absent. America, or Michigan, or Ingham County, rather, will give second chances out like candy. It's a free-for-all. You've made a mistake? Oh, you've killed? You've raped? Well, darling, crawl onto the judge's lap and say you're very, very sorry; he or she will give you a stern talking-to and maybe even smack your knuckles, but then wipe your tears, pat your back, and send you on your way. So go ahead. Kill again. Rape again. Mercy will set you free, because mercy trumps justice here.

That is so unbearably twisted. Justice would condemn; mercy just...forgave. Flippantly. With disregard. I'm not so sure that was in the original plan for mercy.

I just wish that the two could coexist. Not a mixture of two extreme opposites, but just a cooperation. The ONLY place where the two meet is at the cross. The ONLY person who experienced justice and mercy concurrently is Jesus Christ.

Because the demands of justice required a brutal death, but the longings of love, this depth of mercy, required a second chance for every man, every woman, every child. Everybody.

It's massive. It's ground-breaking. Justice meets Mercy. North meets South. East meets West.

That means that there exists a hope for me. I deserve the very depths of literal, condemning justice, but I don't experience that. I get away with it, BUT more than that, though, I have the option to make things right. I have the option to experience mercy, but not without the requirements of judgment. I'm judged by what I do, and I am sentenced to death, but Somebody has mercy on me. This is important: the foot of the cross is where the two meet. It isn't anywhere else, certainly not any courtroom in America. Justice and Mercy, at the cross: the opposites coming together.


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