The longer I am a Christian, the more I give thanks that God is the judge. He has set a day for judgement, and set the one who will judge – Jesus, and given proof of this by raising Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:31).
Why would this make me thankful?
Because I keep hearing of awful things. Just recently these include: genocidal activity in South Sudan; foolish driving that kills a passenger; retailers exploiting women by selling porn-themed goods to school kids; prosecution for those involved in Cambodia’s killing fields in the 1970s.
And I pray, ‘End it, Lord! Bring justice.’
I’m grateful for men and women who work for what is right. And more than grateful – I’m impressed by so much bravery and diligence. Yet human justice is never perfect, and too often alloyed with less honourable motives. So I pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, and establish the home of righteousness.’
All that, I hope, is quite straightforward. What’s next is more personal, concerning what I notice about myself. It might not be so relevant to you.
I noticed that hearing of injustice tended to lead me to anger, rather than thanks. Perhaps to imagining what I would say, or what I’d like to do. Instead of looking to God’s righteous judgement, I was sliding towards justice by self-determination.
So it’s been extremely helpful for me to remember Romans 12:19. “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” (See also Prov 20:22, Deut 32:35.) It’s pretty clear: allow God to do God’s job. By all means understand justice and the promised victory of righteousness. But by no means arrogate to oneself the role of eternal judge.
The main reason I need to remember this is to honour God as God. Humility is better than arrogance. As a bonus, there are two big benefits to me.
Firstly, I find it frees me from the niggle and stress of simmering anger. I still hate murder and broken pledges and all that. But I find myself not ruminating or losing sleep as I turn over ‘what I’d do if …’
Secondly – and this is quite important – it frees me to engage and act. That God will judge should never lead to apathy (‘Oh well, trading women is awful, but at least God will do something one day’). Instead, it frees me act as a human today: to communicate, agitate, aim for change … and even to love perpetrators enough to hope for their change in heart and action.
So, in 2012, I aim to remember Romans 12:19 frequently, and to thank God for his coming judgement.