“You cannot speak of God’s justice; only His mercy!” -St. Isaac of Syria
For proof of why we should not talk about God’s justice as if we know one damn thing about it, I urge you to just scroll through your Facebook for all the condemnation being heaped on George Zimmerman after his verdict was reached.
Statements like “He may get away with it here, but he’ll burn in eternity”, “He’ll get his in eternity”, and “He’ll burn forever” are running rampant on my newsfeed. I for one do not find these helpful outside of the fact that they help me with one thing:
Humanity’s warped view of justice is perverted, angry, and twisted. All too often this insatiable blood thirsty sense of “justice” is read into Scriptures and projected onto God as if His justice is the same perversion.
Those saying these things, I urge you to pause, pray, and collect your thoughts before you speak of God and His justice as if it is like ours. It is not! The reason St. Isaac spoke as he did is because God only and alone is judge of the human soul. These does not have anything to do with us making good judgments about morality. It has to do with setting ourselves up as God.
When we condemn someone’s soul to hell we are playing God. And we are assuming onto God a blood lust that He does not have. There are even theological views like Penal Substitutionary Atonement that play into this image of God as wrathful and just as we are just, or like to think we are.
Father Stephen Freeman writes in his blog, “Justice Enough?“, “The human desire for justice is insatiable. And that is a problem. It is a problem because an insatiable desire can never be satisfied: there is no end to our desire for justice.” This is seen clearly in the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial. Those who feel that the verdict was unjust are often misled in their emotions to cast eternal judgments and render justice where they have no place nor any authority to cast nor to render.
This case reveals to us the insatiable, blood thirsty sense of “justice” to which all humanity often clings. I know that feelings are hot. I know that many felt justice was not done. I empathize with you even if we disagree. However, those who wish to cast eternal judgment, please stop and realize you are not God and you know not of His justice for He alone is the Judge.
Father goes on, “St. Isaac draws us in the right direction. Though we cannot know, fathom or understand God’s mercy, such ignorance should not limit our trust. God is a ‘good God who loves mankind.’ He is philanthropos.
Our salvation is rightly understood through the lens of God’s mercy and not through His justice.”
Let us pray for the salvation of George Zimmerman, who no matter how justified his self-defense was, still committed a grieve sin by taking another human life. Let us pray for the salvation of Treyvon and that his soul may be at peace and his family may seek reconciliation rather than continued violence and hatred.
In our passions, we often are zealous to condemn and lust for blood in payment of blood that has been shed. This is not the way of Christ nor the way of His Church.
These are the things to seek and live by in these chaotic times. If you are tempted to take the place of God and speak of His justice then remember that His justice cannot be spoken of nor can we understand it. Biblical justice has always been centered around making things right not about revenge and blood lust. Remember this in the heat of the moment. Seek to bring about healing, peace, reconciliation, and rightness in this tragedy.
And above all, His justice is no where near like ours. For which I am thankful.