It feels odd to start a series about easy yokes with JUSTICE.
Shouldn’t we affirm the warm, fuzzies first? Jesus will love you no matter what, that he’s a friend, a Father, a Mother, a Spirit, an everything?
Oh, all that is true.
But I will be honest: I don’t think there’s warm fuzzies without justice. I don’t think there’s freedom and peace without a reckoning.
If God does not hold our betrayals in his hands and reckon with them, we aren’t safe enough for freedom.
And that means we need to talk about justice first.
Over and over, I have tried to avoid a reckoning.
I’ve written before about the explosion I experienced in my first serious go of therapy. I came to my therapist with a tale of all the spiritual things wrong to me—not being submitted enough to the Holy Spirit, being, as Paul said, trapped in a body of death. I thought I should be a Lego Christian mini-fig: my head and heart swapped out for newer models if anything ailed me, all because of Jesus™.
My therapist stopped my spiritualizing, told me that I was depressed, and that depression was anger turned inwards. Then she leaned forward and asked me a question:
Who are you angry at?
That question blew everything apart. Not just my relationship to my parents. It exposed my massive, volcanic anger towards God Himself.
I was angry that my little paper-plate Christian mask hadn’t kept me from being angry at my parents. I was angry He hadn’t replaced my family with a functional one. I was angry he’d not stopped me from a moronic unawareness of my emotions.
In the months that followed, I wondered if Jesus had anything to say to the real state of my heart.
If He didn’t—if he was mere spackle and polish for lives already ship-shape, then I was done.
We have to talk about justice in faith, because there’s no peace, freedom, or joy in God unless we deal with our anger. Anger means we have been wronged. Anger means we have been hurt.
Blessedly, anger is like a giant signpost pointing at reality.
Or: maybe we’ve been the oppressors. Maybe we’re complicit in smashing others’ hopes. Maybe we’ve hardened our hearts against compassion.
How can there be any peace with our hearts in that condition?
Justice is the pointed finger, the sword, the steady eye that doesn’t blink. Justice is the assurance that Jesus doesn’t just care but does something about wrongs. Justice is the discipline of not going on with business as usual.
Unless Jesus has something to say to those of us betrayed by the church, excluded from Scripture, systematically marginalized, unjustly imprisoned, killed without reason, condescended to, abused, gas-lighted, snickered at, and ignored, there is no peace.
Unless we have justice, some sense that all will be well, Jesus is just niceness. He has no power for what ails us.
Today I want to ask you: who are you angry at?
Who is angry at you?
Do you believe Jesus has anything to say about those things? Have you waved them away with Christian-esque Jedi mind-tricks? Have you really felt your grief and guilt and anger and bewilderment about the state of your soul?
Someone with an easy yoke of justice stays put when business as usual explodes. That person doesn’t run away or attempt to fix things. Instead, they admit. They confess. They hold still before the unblinking eye.
They confess that they are enraged at God Almighty.
They confess their murderous thoughts.
I admit it: None of this sounds easy.
Oh, but it is. It is easier than the alternative.
If God is the God of justice, then we can stop trying. Stop trying to hide, or shame ourselves, or explain our panic attacks away. If God knows and does something about injustice, then we can come out now, with our hands up. We can throw ourselves at his feet and trust we are safe.
No more mad scrambling to cover ourselves or our shame.
Yes, yes, the easiest things—the surrendering—are always the hardest.
But dear, sweet Jesus: it’s always easier, really, to give up the ghost.
For the rest of the posts in this easy-yoke faith series, click here.
Image credit: Ivan Malkin