One of the leading genres for literature and TV is crime or courtroom dramas. Do you ever wonder why that is? Many people think it’s because we are fascinated with evil. But maybe we are actually fascinated with truth and justice. What if it is not the sin we want to see played out? In fact, if you think about it, we do not need fiction to play out sin, for we actually see it in our everyday lives.
We know what sin looks and feels like. So, maybe we read Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown Mysteries, or we watch one of dozens of police and crime shows, because we want to see wrongs made right and justice being served. Maybe that is actually harder for us to imagine.
While humanity as a whole may not acknowledge the fallen state of man, we Christians are acutely aware of our condition. We are separated from Perfection. Every day we feel the reality of this separation in a myriad of ways, and in our best moments, the ones where we are humbled, we acknowledge that we fall short of the glory of God, and we ask for forgiveness because we know we deserve judgment.
And honestly, when I think of humanity's judgment, my thoughts do not immediately go toward favorable judgment. Our God is just. He will judge with justice. We can understand justice as giving what is due, or proper or fitting to a person or situation. So, if we were writing this story, I am certain that incredible mercy and saving grace would not be the prevailing themes.
And yet our God is telling a different story. It includes judgment by a just judge, who is acting in a fitting and proper way toward us, and it is undeniably filled with both mercy and grace.
Isaiah 11:3-4 offers an explanation for how these seemingly contradictory ideas, judgment and mercy, work in harmony to form God's story:
"And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth..."
Isaiah is speaking of the Rod of Jesse, whom we now know as Jesus. He says that Jesus will not judge according to appearance and rumors but with righteousness and justice and fairness to all. This means that His judgment, whatever it is, will apply to ALL of humanity in the same way. We know that the prophecies in Isaiah have come to pass; Jesus has lived out this plan as an incarnation of justice on earth.
And what did our Judge do?
He came as a baby, He walked with us, He taught us, He healed us, He suffered death for us. God deemed that these actions were an appropriate and fitting way of dealing with humanity.
Because humans were marked from the beginning with the image of God and created for relationship with Him. The way the world is now is wrong. It is not fitting and appropriate for humanity. All humans, Christian or not, feel this and know this when they are faced with life's tragedies and hardships. And this is perhaps why we want to see and read stories of wrongs being made right.
The truth is that we are separated in time and space from eternity and glory. Both belonged to us in the garden where we enjoyed a seamless and harmonious relationship with our Creator. But that relationship suffered a fracture. And our connection to the perfect creation our God designed has been shattered into innumerable pieces. Those shards of truth, goodness, and beauty have been flung across the earth and lie waiting for us to find and collect as we rebuild the picture of wholeness through our dimmed sight (1 Corinthians 13:12). Standing in the center of that picture is Jesus, who will judge and decide with fairness (some versions say equity) for the afflicted earth. While Isaiah speaks of the poor and lowly in society here, I cannot help but think that we are all poor and lowly in our present position in this fallen world.
And so if Justice, our Judge, has already come, He has already acted justly and has already decided with fairness a verdict for the entire afflicted earth. What was His judgment? We matter.
Every action and word spoken declared this simple yet monumental truth. He became one of us, bound by DNA to the human race as He was born from a woman. He grew up and dwelt among us and then He taught, healed, prayed, and walked with us. He gave us stories to demonstrate that there were pieces missing from the perfect creation He designed and intended for us. And then He died a horrific death on a cross like a criminal for us. He is a king and ruler and yet none of His time on earth displayed this glory.
His every action declared His fair judgment: Humans matter.
And if He judges us as important, He also declares our sentence, laying out what life looks like after the verdict. What was His sentence? Come home.
Our sins are judged as evil, but we are not our sins. Sin cannot be in the presence of God, but His image can be. He opened the way, gave us a road map, and stands waiting, having accomplished all that is necessary to get us there.
As we engage with this world on our journey home, let us carry this judgment as encouragement. A recent blog post reminded us that transformation is a process. May we remember that God has declared that we matter in a most dramatic and emphatic way, and may that give us courage and comfort as we transform. May we remember that our sentence is to be welcomed home and that our roadmap is simply fixing our eyes on Him.
Julie Malecki lives with her husband, two kids who have recently become adults, a cat, and a dog in a house with more bookshelves than closets. As of June 2023, she is officially retired from her long-time vocation as a home school mom but still has a heart to encourage and breathe life into the Christian community at large. She is a graduate of the Circe Apprenticeship and received her certificate as a Master Classical Teacher. She is passionate about Classical Education, great books, insightful authors, enduring words, and seeing God’s fingerprint on the cosmos (the well-ordered whole of reality).