Universal Justice

I may not understand much, but as I'm here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, I understand the federal criminal justice system reasonably well. Many say it's broken, but it's not broken at all. It's very much alive and well and churning along like a bureaucratic behemoth. In it's wake are legions and legions of scavengers, also called federal employees and lawyers, sponging off the system. But that's another story. In short, the federal criminal justice system works on the principle of retribution, which is characterized by punishment and payment. Christians sometimes confuse that with God's justice, which is completely different. God's justice is based solely on mercy.

Most American religion doesn't see it that way, though. It has to perform double back flips to combine retribution and mercy, coming up with a bifurcated doctrine that says that God is merciful up to a point but then gives up on us. Then we run out of chances and eternal retribution takes over. If we don't "get washed in the blood" or "straighten up and fly right," it's going to be hell, to use some often repeated threats.

Maybe we have a natural human tendency to imagine that God acts like a federal judge with lifetime tenure, but that premise falls apart when thoughtfully considered. God's love and mercy is infinite, and is not a threat but a promise. It's the unexplainable love that leaves the 99 sheep and looks for the one lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). It's the mercy that brings rain on the unjust and the just alike (Matthew 5:43-45). If we are to forgive 70 times 7 times, why would we expect less from a prodigal God (Matthew 18:21-22). God's love and mercy simply NEVER. EVER. GIVE. UP.

This has all been true since the beginning with God's original blessing, breathing life into all creation. God has always been part of all things which forever long for reunion with God. ALL things. God is not just out of reach; God is everywhere. God isn't wrathful either; God is love. The love that's in us doesn't just come from God. It is God. As Richard Rohr writes, "If God is perceived as absolutely otherness, it eventually creates absolute alienation, which is most of Western civilization today. Add to that any notion of God as petty, angry, or torturing, and the mystical journey comes to a standstill. So God created similarity and compassion, which become visible in the human Jesus to overcome this tragic gap--in a way we could see, touch and understand (I John 1:1). God-in-you seeks to love God beyond, like an implanted homing device. It works!" I like to think it ALWAYS works!

God's justice is nothing but mercy, and mercy and love always win. As the apostle Paul writes "at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven, and on the earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10).

Everyone under, above and on the earth sounds like EVERYONE to me, dead or alive.

God's mercy is not just justice, it's the gospel too, and we will all ultimately come home to and be immersed in it.