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Core 52 Chapter 22 - Justice Served

In the movie The Princess Bride, one of the film’s McGuffins is a phrase spoken by Inigo Montoya – a phrase by which the initial story is driven forward. Inigo is on a desperate journey to right the wrong of his father’s murder by a mysterious man with six fingers on his left hand. Inigo’s approach to righting this wrong is to hunt down the six-fingered man who killed his father and return to the six-fingered man exactly what he did to Inigo’s father. Hence the infamous phrase: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Inigo can be found throughout the movie fantasizing about the death of the six-fingered man and repeatedly rehearses the stance and manner in which he’ll speak this phrase before he finally exacts his revenge on the man who killed his father.

Often, when we hear of “justice being served,” we think of situations like this. When we desire justice, we desire the person who did the wrong to be served a sentence that “matches up” to the wrong they did. The idea of “an eye for an eye” or “getting back at them” can often become the way we see justice. But is that justice? If somebody hits my car, is the right response to hit theirs in return? If somebody pulls my hair, and I pull theirs back, does that do anybody any good? Does “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” mean that we should return to others the actions they do to us?

In this week’s chapter of CORE 52, Mark Moore begins the discussion of the Golden Rule (do to others) by contrasting it with what he calls the Silver Rule (don’t do to others). In Moore’s lesson, the Silver Rule is passive, while the Golden Rule is active. The task at hand is to use our energy to DO for the Lord what he requires, rather than exhaust our energy on NOT DOING in order to avoid judgment. The Lord requires us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Today, let’s discover how our definition of justice compares with the Lord’s.

For us to do justice, we need to understand that justice and revenge are very different. Revenge is birthed out of bitterness toward the person(s) who wronged us and ultimately leads to punishment. Justice is the pursuit of “setting things right.” Seeking justice is to seek the restoration of what was broken, and somehow make it right again. The most simple form of justice we know is practiced by Christians every day through confession of our sins, the act of repentance, and the pursuit of forgiveness. God is a just God and has set the whole world right by the eternal salvation of the earth through His Son.

Several times, the prophet Isaiah mentions the kind of justice God seeks. In chapter fifty-eight the Lord tells Isaiah that the kind of fasting [worship] He desires is not doing as we please, but rather setting the broken right again – feeding the hungry and widows, clothing the poor, providing a place to sleep for the traveler, and to meet the basic needs of those who cannot meet them on their own. In Isaiah chapter one, the Lord rebukes the nation because they bring a multitude of sacrifices to Him, but ignore what He truly desires of them, which is to “wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed [in my footnotes it says “correct the oppressor”], take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

God does not accept anything less than genuine in our worship. Shouldn’t the same be said for everything else we do? This week, let’s ask ourselves if we seek God’s kind of justice in the world around us. Are we being proactive or static? Are we seeking to set things right or get even? Is revenge our motive, or are we seeking to set the world right in the way of sacrificial service, love, and righteous living as Isaiah tells us? Let’s be counter-cultural and show love when people expect hate. Let’s turn the other cheek in the pursuit of forgiving others. Let us be quick and willing to meet the needs of the people around us in order to pursue a world where things are right again.

Karissa Hardin