The Downside of Justice


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.

Not fair.

Unjust.

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

From home

This entry was posted in Perspectives, The Kingdom of God. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Downside of Justice

  1. misseves says:

    Knowing it’s not right but pressing on towards the larger goal…something I’m challenged to do everyday as a foster parent for a private agency (that refers to kids as “contracts”). The question endlessly comes up, “Why do you bother?” The system is completely unjust. But there are children in need of homes.
    Thanks for the encouragement to keep on keeping on.

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  2. Darla says:

    Thank you very much, Arthur, for releasing a “word in season” for the Body! This came on a timely day for me as well.
    Very good encouragement from the Word and from your personal walk. It really comes against our “North American” thinking and points us higher to Kingdom thinking.
    I’m seeking to grow in grace when the injustices come, taking the “ouch factor” to Father, but also not allowing myself to be a “doormat” &/or “stuffer”. Such a balance that only my wise Father can walk a person through 🙂
    Bless you richly today.

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  3. Rosa says:

    Great post…I like the reminder about the victim spirit…I hope its ok though,to allow myself a moment or two of entreme ‘peeved-ness’. I did,then got over it,in a recent situation.

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  4. Mike Corbin says:

    Really appreciate the way you have framed “injustice” in this article.

    Building walls is a great term. I’ve arrived at a point in my life where I look at the injustice and basically say “I’m not participating in that anymore” or “that doesn’t belong to me”.

    Here’s my question: On your long walks to the garbage can, how have you been able to “build walls” without “fertilizing the ground” for the victim spirit?

    Mike

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    • The victim spirit comes in when we can explain why it is right for things to be wrong. So when the battered woman decides in her mind that it is OK for her husband to beat her because he only does it when he’s drunk and he loves her the rest of the time, it is that (not the beating) that opens the door for the demonic control.

      Hence, my vertical statement to God, THIS IS NOT RIGHT, so that I am most assuredly not coming into agreement with the victim spirit.

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  5. Irina Rivera says:

    A person who typifies this, I believe, is Princess Diana. I told my girls about her when Prince William married Kate because there was something about her. She really got a raw deal (from the outside perspective, at least) and yet she used the media’s interest to put attention on her desire to help children in particular. I’m not commenting on any other part of her “story” but she came to mind as a modern example of a person who took the cards that were dealt and used it for good. Obviously that is just one aspect of her story, but I believe an example of your post, nonetheless.

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  6. Donna says:

    This is excellent Arthur, very well said.
    Defines “overcoming” perfectly.
    and we press on toward the mark
    have a blessed day

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  7. Jana says:

    I have to print this post out and put it up on the wall where I can read it often!

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  8. December says:

    Why you gotta go and take my last excuse like that? Such a good word Arthur. Timely. Thank you.

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  9. Elise says:

    Thank you! This post is a very precious gift!

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  10. Debbie Goodwin says:

    I am hugging myself wth joy, exactly what I needed!

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  11. Katharine Fazzari says:

    so true, so liberating, so Father inspired, what a King we have!

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  12. Gaby Meyer says:

    My husband and I can verify what you are saying. Both of us have worked in our local Healing Room for a number of years. Three years ago, I told God that I was frustrated in not seeing enough physical healing take place, although many people with emotional issues were being blessed. That same month, my husband was summarily fired from his job, aged 60, with no pay, no severance pay, and having invested quite a lot of money in the company — we were facing destitution. We decided that this would not deter our praying for healing and pursuing God in that area. That was when physical healings began to happen in front of our eyes, and my faith went to a level it had never been before. We recovered most of our money in a court case and started our own company. I realised in that time that we should put the Kingdom first and leave the rest to God.

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  13. Tracy says:

    What a wonderful lesson! I am not really phased by personal justice issues. I must say, injustice to others does tend to get my goat. Especially if they are already disadvantaged i.e poor, weak, disenfranchised. In the past I have found myself completely absorbed in every possible way trying to get justice for such folk. All that’s left of me at the end of every fighting day is just a shell. And, I’m not even an attorney, just someone who somehow has an extraordinary amount of authority when I put pen to paper. I have had to step back a bit and trust God to guide me into the battles He would rather have me do. It has become so liberating to know that I don’t have to be in the trenches 24/7, pen in hand, heart hanging out…I have learned to hear more from Him and to intercede more for the folk who need it, all the while, assisting in more practical ways. It’s exhausting fighting for justice continually and one loses perspective of the real tasks at hand – so, once again, thanks for shedding light in your usual way.

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  14. sandra says:

    Dear Arthur ,
    I agree injustice should not be a block to our standing and building the Kingdom. However the Armean curse must not be allowed to stand either.
    My take on Isaiah 59 is that as long as none will cry to God for justice ,those who turn from evil will become a prey.
    Abraham was chosen because “he would teach his children ” how to exercise righteousness and justice .
    The throne of God is balanced when justice is being exercised. So its true we must not allow injustice to block us from achieving our call ,neither should we be silent in this time when Satan is using the evil of injustice to destroy lives.I believe its is only through the church that justice will be restored to the earth and evil restrained .
    Only the cry for justice to our Father the Righteous Judge must be as Jesus said in Luke 18 “day and night” a cry , persevering till this Satanic tide is stemmed. Like Nehemiah we work and pray until the job is done and our Father just plan is in place .

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  15. Kunle says:

    Amen!

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  16. lindajoy says:

    🙂 good timing

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