California is known for its love affair with the car. In order to support our addiction, we pay massive amounts of taxes for some of the best highways and signage in America. As a result, California has a lower rate of death by auto accident than the rest of America.
I was pretty smug about our magnificent freeways, impressive overpasses and impeccable signage until I went to Argentina. There I was introduced to a different perspective. This was back at the turn of the century when Argentina was going through a rough patch and it affected everything, including traffic.
The view of the Argentines is that their drivers are so much better than California drivers BECAUSE of the lawlessness. Since people drove in a fairly random manner, the Argentine drivers had to be hyper alert, process a great deal more information than the California drivers did, and make more challenging decisions under greater pressure.
In their eyes, California drivers were pansies because they expected people to be lawful and when someone was unlawful, the habitually lawful pansies were unprepared for the reality of the moment and therefore had foolish accidents that would not have happened with the superlative Argentine drivers.
An interesting theory.
If we take the theory out of the world of cars and drivers and bring it to the world of Christians in conflict, I find it very applicable. I get endless e-mails from people complaining about the injustice they are facing. The implied (or spoken) conclusion is that they can’t go forward in their Kingdom work until justice is restored.
This is utter nonsense. Much of the best work in the Kingdom has been done under the umbrella of injustice by sons who had a high degree of creativity and found a way to go forward regardless of the injustice.
I have come to believe that the average Christian’s focus on his rights is one of the greatest obstacle to fulfilling their Kingdom responsibilities. As soon as the devil can cause some injustice in their lives, they are paralyzed.
And he smirks. It was just too easy.
Nehemiah is a stunning role model. He had very little justice. It was not just the Samaritans in the area who were lobbing hand grenades at him, the nobles in the city who should have been carrying the heavy end of the log were, in reality, undermining him.
Furthermore, because of the weak economy, he did not charge administrative expenses against the tax revenue but paid all of the executive office costs out of his own pocket for 12 years, depleting his capital reserve.
Of course it was. But he was not sent to achieve personal justice. He went to build a wall and because he did not allow himself to be sidetracked by the injustice, he got the wall done and the governmental structure of the city set up.
Imagine what would have happened (or not happened) if he had stopped to get things sorted out with the nobles before proceeding. He modeled for us living at great personal loss because of the flagrant, pervasive injustice, but getting the job done anyway.
How about Christ?
“He came unto His own and His own received Him not.” Pretty unjust. In fact, early on in his ministry things got so messy with the injustice in Judea that He left the area to go back up to Galilee so He could focus on growing the disciples.
Fighting for justice was a time consuming task which detracted from the main ministry, so He managed the problem in a dozen ways, instead of trying to solve the problem.
What about the situation with the Gadarene demoniac? He rid the community of a sociopath and their ungrateful response was to boot Him. Did He fight it? Nope. He had work to do and could not waste time fighting for justice.
In daily life, we face a lot of injustice. I have a trash can issue at work with another tenant. They are unjust and management is unjust and won’t fix it. I could fix it with a lawsuit.
Let’s see. X amount of dollars. Y amount of time in learning curve and court time. Z amount of animosity in the neighborhood. It is doable.
Or, I could walk the long way to put my trash in the distant dumpsters and spend my time and social capital in other ways.
I choose to embrace the injustice in this situation.
There are some poison pen sites that slander me in various ways. That is a lot of injustice. I could go after them, and it would cost time, money, and emotional energy for me and others. Or, I could ignore them and spend the time writing another lesson.
I have a relative who is quite unjust to me. I have tried to work out a resolution but they don’t want resolution. The injustice is emotionally unpleasant, but at the end of the day, it does not stop me from doing what I am called to do so I skip the justice and get the job done anyway.
I have a doctor who will not release my medical records in the usual way. I know all about HIPAA which requires the release. But it took time to fight her, and I didn’t make progress, so I walked away and found a different way to get what I needed. I am healthy in that area today, even though I did not get justice.
At the end of the day, I am more Argentine than Californian. I used to invest a lot of effort in getting justice. Today I look at the objective not the metric. What am I called to do? Will my pursuit of personal justice take away from getting my assignment done? If so, I pull a Nehemiah and register a complaint in heaven (takes three seconds) and then get back on task.
Justice can be really expensive. In fact, it can devour so much emotional energy that you are not able to get the job done that you were assigned.
Think through your story line when you are standing before the Righteous Judge of the Universe.
“Yes, your Majesty. I did receive the assignment to do this and that. No, Your Majesty, I didn’t get it done. You see, the woman You gave me pulled an injustice on me, and therefore . . . ”
No, wait. That one has already been used.
Umm . . . try this. “Your Majesty, the government You placed me under deprived me of my civil rights and threatened to kill me if I . . . ”
No, wait. Jesus is standing over there. Not a good defense.
Umm . . . “Your Majesty, my boss was an unbelievable crook and moved the boundaries so many . . . ”
Oh, man! That won’t work either. That is Jacob standing over there.
Folks, at the end of the day, there are only a tiny handful of people in Scripture who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and lived in a bubble of justice.
Living in injustice is the norm. And getting the job done in SPITE OF the injustice is the expectation.
Do an inventory of your life. If you are being blocked across the board by injustice, it is probably more a matter of lack of creativity and initiative on your part than the severity of the injustice.
Too many Christians are fighting for personal justice when they ought to be building walls in a hideously unjust situation.
Copyright June 2011 by Arthur Burk