On Sunday, the New England Patriots played the Los Angeles Rams in a contest for the Super Bowl. There was an extra level of drama around this year’s game. Three Sundays ago in the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams (very close to the end of the game), the officiating crew made a mistake. And a clear penalty against the Rams was missed.
If that penalty had been called, New Orleans almost certainly would have won the game. It was such a clear infraction against the rules that everyone agreed a penalty should have been called – even the player on the Rams who committed the (double) offence. However, a penalty was not called. New Orleans did not win. The L.A. Rams did win. An injustice occurred, and the team that benefited from the injustice had a chance to win the Super Bowl.
Christians know that we live in the already/not-yet. This is the time between the death and resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago, and His second coming sometime in the future. It is called “the already/not-yet”, because some of the benefits of the New Heaven and Earth have already begun in us – we dwell in eternal life; we are part of the Lord’s Kingdom/people/family; we can live each day in light of how the story of the world will end; the Holy Spirit indwells in us forever.
At the end of all things, perfect justice will be real. This perfect justice will be real for every human being, family, nation, institution throughout history. We will see perfect justice enacted and accomplished. “The Lord will do this and it will be marvelous to our eyes”
However, the End of all things is still in the future. Now, in the already/not yet, we live in a time when sometimes there is some justice and sometimes there is no justice. We have no guarantee that we will see justice enacted in our world right now. It is not that there is only injustice. The Lord by His common grace maintains some justice. Human fallenness and freedom means sometimes injustice wins for now. The “for now” is important because Christians (at the End) will see the Lord’s justice handed down to all humans in all of our history.
All of this means several important things for Christians. First, we are to be people who care for justice, who desire to see justice done, who desire to walk and live in a just way. We are to work against and stand against injustice. We are to live each day in light of the End.
Second, we will know that sometimes injustice “wins” in this world. We should never make peace with this, or become cynical and resigned to injustice. See the first point again. Real injustice should not cause us to despair. We live in the already/not-yet. If this world is all there is, real injustice can lead to cynicism and despair. We are to act with hope, for we know how the story ends.
Third, we should be humbled by God’s grace, marveling at His mercy given to us through Jesus and His death upon the cross. A Christian is not perfect. He or she knows that on the cross, God’s perfect justice was made real, but that His grace and mercy was also poured out as Jesus willingly took upon Himself the justice you and I deserve. So we can live confident in Him, without pride, filled with gratitude for His mercy shown to us and received by faith alone.