Where Do We Find God's Justice?
“Human anger does not produce the justice God desires.” James 1:20 NLT*
I have seen a lot of anger these days—in politics, in the church, in the world at large. Reasonable, thoughtful discourse is flooded away in a tsunami of keyboard vitriol. Soundbite retorts. Knee-jerk hate. Patience? NO WAY! We’re too busy making a point.
When my father used to yell at the family in anger, we shut him out as we waited for it to pass. We didn’t absorb a thing he said—we were too busy working not to absorb it! It was too hard, too strong, too much. His yelling never improved whatever situation he wanted to improve.
That’s what happens online too—as we seek to resolve complex concerns via Facebook. The more grenades we lob, the more entrenched we become in our polarized camps. The more vitriol we spout, the more we believe what we believed to begin with. Seems clear that human rage like this produces nothing good.
Now take a look at the end of that verse: the justice God desires. The translators unfortunately chose to translate the Greek word dikaiosynēn as righteousness—which, in keeping with our Western rugged individualism, implies individual piety. But the word is better translated justice (hence the asterisk above after NLT). Justice focuses us on community, the common good—that’s the focus of Scripture from beginning to end. To lose that is to lose the entire sweep of Scripture… as we’re seeing today in our modern Western church.
Human anger (except when it is speaking truth to power) only escalates individual and partisan interests and is constantly at odds with the overall good. We need to refocus on community, concern for others and our common humanity. It is the only way to achieve the justice God desires.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Cottrell is the prominent voice for faith parents of LGBTQI children. She is an international speaker, author and spiritual director. Through her nonprofit organization—FreedHearts—Susan champions the LGBTQI community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that love—of God and others—is the foundation of faith. She spent 25 years in the non-affirming Evangelical church, is the Founder and President of FreedHearts, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, served as the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin (Texas), and was featured on ABC's 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America. Her books “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith (published by Westminster John Knox Press), and True Colors - Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You, have been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, The Gay Christian Network and many others. She and her husband Rob have been married for 30 years, have five children, two of whom are in the LGBTQI community, and live in Austin, Texas.