When it comes to God’s justice we need to be clear on what the scriptures mean by “justice”. Our 21st century, sacred, understanding of “justice” has hijacked 1st century understanding of “justice”. We’ve turned God’s call for “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness” into our demand for “Retributive Justice” and in doing so make the scriptures say something the writers (and God) never said.
It is to this point the latter chapters of the book of Jonah speak. Too often we focus on the first act of the book of Jonah (Jonah’s call and response), at the expense of the final act of the book of Jonah (Anger and disgust at God’s mercy). It is to this human condition that the book of Jonah speaks in the final chapters of the book. The nature and character of God is in question for Jonah, and if we are honest, ourselves. God acts as God always acts with “Distributive Justice and restorative righteousness”. However, like Jonah instead of taking our place as God’s partner in offering grace, love and mercy, restoration and reconciliation, we’ve embraced an attitude of exclusivism and disdain.
We are not the judge and jury, determining guilt and handing down the sentence; but we are partners with God calling all of creation to reconciliation and restoration; celebrating, and rejoicing in God’s acts of love, grace and mercy toward those we’ve determined unworthy, unredeemable. This is what Micah means when he says, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8). Jonah is our example of how not to act as we strive to embody the words of Micah.
I look forward to seeing you in Church as we strive to embrace our partnership with God, extending Distributive Justice and Restorative Righteousness in the world we live.