Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.

Proverbs 29: 26

 

The modern philosopher John Rawls said, “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.” I think that Rawls means that justice is fundamental. It is foundational to the formation of our society, and it is an essential platform upon which our society and its systems of governance are formed. Yet it is something that is sadly lacking in our world. Far too often it is held as a tool of power and as a device of oppression. Rulers, governmental and religious leaders, and others in positions of authority and might impose their own concepts of what is right and just upon others in order to bring about conformity and subservient behavior. As a result of this our world is filled with people who live in fear and who, in turn, become fearsome.

 

Upon consideration of the idea, I think that Rawls is right. Justice is something that should underlie all of the institutions that people use to organize ourselves. It is something that God placed into our world as a part of its creation design. The desire for justice and the capability to grant it are inherent in God’s creating humanity in His own image. Justice is a characteristic and a quality of God. I believe that if there were no God, there would be no justice. It is like the other higher qualities of love, peace, mercy, grace, and righteousness. These are qualities that people desire and that benefit us; yet, all of them exist solely because they come from God, Himself. Humanity on its own has a very bad track record in regards to the way that we live together. It is solely through the grace of God that we do find peace, engage in loving others, and seek to govern in a righteous manner. It is that same grace that leads us to justice for ourselves and for others.

 

If we seek to live in a just world, we must submit ourselves to the King of the Universe. It is essential for us to recognize that we are subjects of an authority that is higher than all other and that is also foundational for all earthly rule and rulers. This reordering of our allegiances is essential for us to become people who treat others justly. Additionally, living in this manner is not learned in government classes or through participation in our processes of governance, it is learned at the foot of the cross of Jesus. Justice is best understood as we follow in the steps of Christ, for He walked among us and responded to the people and the situations of His world in a manner that brought His living example of God’s created desire and intent for just, relational engagement among all people face to face with the real world where we live. In order to know justice, we need to avoid the halls of government until we know the path of Christ. Yet, once we are walking in the steps of the Savior, we should boldly bring Him and His glory into those same halls.

Many seek the face of a ruler,

but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice.

Proverbs 29: 26

 

It may seem like this is the season of seeking. We gather in rallies to show support and to shout out our opposition to political parties and to candidates for office. We cast votes that are intended to inform the process of selection, or we gather as communities to seek our corporate mind. Yet, the rulers that we choose will all fall short of our expectations and even fail to bring about most of what they promise. This is the nature of human governance as it seeks to wield power and to gain popularity instead of seeking after the mind and the heart of God as its approach to that process of governance.

 

So, if it is justice that you desire, it is best to look elsewhere. If you want truth and fair play to set the tone for your national leaders, you are likely to be disappointed, for we don’t tend to elect honest people to office. In our world today there is little reverence or even respect in our public discourse, and I am afraid that our leaders are doing nothing more than following the lead of their constituencies in the manner of their speech. We get what we truly want as we set the tone for those who lead us. We also establish our own priorities as we turn to the people who we have elected as our source for what constitutes our highest values and our moral tone.

 

All of this is completely backwards. God has given to us a different view of this world and of its governance. He is the only source for what is right, just, and worthy. The Lord is the one true and authorized ruler of this world. There are only two camps to align with in this process of setting out the direction for a nation, one is submitted to God and the other is ruled by the world itself. So, if the attitude and the action of a government are not in conformity with those of God, that government and the people who are setting out its approach to ruling are committed to and submitted to the powers of this world. Thus, we should not expect to find justice in that government’s halls, and we would be foolish to expect to encounter peace as the product of its rule.

Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice.

Proverbs 29: 26

 

The modern philosopher John Rawls said, “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.” I think that Rawls means that justice is fundamental. It is foundational to the formation of our society, and it is an essential platform upon which our society and its systems of governance are formed. Yet it is something that is sadly lacking in our world. Far too often it is held as a tool of power and as a device of oppression. Rulers, governmental and religious leaders, and others in positions of authority and might impose their own concepts of what is right and just upon others in order to bring about conformity and subservient behavior. As a result of this our world is filled with people who live in fear and who, in turn, become fearsome.

 

Upon consideration of the idea, I think that Rawls is right. Justice is something that should underlie all of the institutions that people use to organize ourselves. It is something that God placed into our world as a part of its creation design. The desire for justice and the capability to grant it are inherent in God’s creating humanity in His own image. Justice is a characteristic and a quality of God. I believe that if there were no God, there would be no justice. It is like the other higher qualities of love, peace, mercy, grace, and righteousness. These are qualities that people desire and that benefit us; yet, all of them exist solely because they come from God, Himself. Humanity on its own has a very bad track record in regards to the way that we live together. It is solely through the grace of God that we do find peace, engage in loving others, and seek to govern in a righteous manner. It is that same grace that leads us to justice for ourselves and for others.

 

If we seek to live in a just world, we must submit ourselves to the King of the Universe. It is essential for us to recognize that we are subjects of an authority that is higher than all other and that is also foundational for all earthly rule and rulers. This reordering of our allegiances is essential for us to become people who treat others justly. Additionally, living in this manner is not learned in government classes or through participation in our processes of governance, it is learned at the foot of the cross of Jesus. Justice is understood as we follow in the steps of Christ while He walked among us and responded to the people and the situations of His world in a manner that brought a living example of God’s created desire and intent for just, relational engagement among all people face to face with the real world where we live. In order to know justice, we need to avoid the halls of government until we know the path of Christ. Yet, once we are walking in the steps of the Savior, we should boldly bring Him and His glory into those same halls.