Monday, July 11, 2011

And Justice . . . for All?

When the verdict was announced at the end of the Casey Anthony trial last week, the response was visceral.

Hearing the jury acquit the 25-year-old mother in the death of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, hit some observers like a punch to the stomach. Many in the courtroom and thousands watching the trial on TV reacted with anger. Some members of the jury later admitted anguish at not being able to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

I didn’t watch the daily proceedings. It had the makings of a Hollywood script, reality TV at its best – and worst: Attractive young woman accused of killing her own daughter. Beauty and the beast, all in one?

Some of the public’s emotion concerned a young life senselessly snuffed out. But a greater, underlying issue also was at work: Our belief in justice, that the person responsible should be punished. In fact, our Pledge of Allegiance closes by affirming our nation’s commitment to “justice for all.”

Why is that? Most of us don’t know the Anthony family, and never met poor Caylee. So it’s not “personal.” And if evolutionists are correct, asserting we’re nothing more than byproducts of cosmic chaos and random chance, why be upset if we believe justice hasn’t been served?

Does it really matter whether a person becomes a biochemist searching to cure a disease, or a drug dealer destroying lives? Or whether someone mends wounded hearts as a cardiothoracic surgeon, or becomes an ax murderer? Stupid questions, right?

It does matter – because we’re not the end result of meaningless chaos, but created in the image of the God who not only is love, but also is just, demanding justice. Throughout the Scriptures, we read of God’s justice and hatred of sin, balanced by His mercy and grace.

In the first book of the Bible, God says of Abraham, “I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” (Genesis 18:19).

In Job 37:23, Job’s friend Elihu declares of God, “…in his justice and righteousness he does not oppress.” Later in the Old Testament we are told, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).        

And we read the ultimate statement of God’s unwavering determination to execute justice in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust….”

We all have shattered God’s laws in thought, word or deed, and deserve justice: His eternal wrath. Yet, because of His love, Jesus Christ has already satisfied this mandate for justice by dying on the cross for us. Because of that, we are offered forgiveness and God’s unconditional love. And we can to protest when we believe justice is not served.

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