Our vision of God as judge, dispenser of punishment, often conflicts with our view of God as Father, dispensing grace with mercy new every morning. We often create God in our own image, shaped by our experiences, to be either a divine Santa Claus waiting to fulfill all of our wishes or a stern grandfather who is unforgiving and unkind.
Our God is just, expecting obedience and faithfulness, and is also the Abba Father who exemplifies mercy and loves us even when we are at our worst. God disciplines and calls the children of God to obedience and to follow even when the following is unpleasant, painful, or against our nature. God also pours out transforming mercies daily to make such obedience possible. In the wholeness of God, discipline comes less as punishment and more as a calling us home. Even in exile, God’s plan includes a homecoming.
Transformative justice centers in a purpose far beyond punishment, separation, or rejection. It is centered in the wholeness that leads to true freedom, the freedom to follow without fear. Perfect love drives out fear, not because there is never discipline but because the discipline never drives out love. God’s love, experienced in mercy and grace, is never conditional or situational. That constant allows transformation to take place.
What could the world be like if our systems employed a justice designed to transform? What would our churches be like if individuals experienced unconditional love and a discipline designed to help them move on to perfection? What would our families be like if we understood justice and mercy as partners in wholeness?
Heavenly Father, help me to see justice and mercy as partners that move me to holiness of heart and life. Amen.
The Hosea passage portrays the agony of God, who is torn between the demands of judgment and of grace. When justice and grace are weighed in God’s balances, grace always prevails. Psalm 107’s language applies to many experiences of alienation. Lostness, hunger, thirst, and weariness characterize the condition of those cut off from God; yet if they seem abandoned, they are not. God has guided them out of the desert and back to their homes once again. The freedom to live in goodness is the subject of Colossians. The passage points read- ers beyond “things that are on earth” to “things that are above.” Freedom from greed is the focus of Luke 12:13-21, a text that addresses the dif cult issue of how the Christian is to deny the temptations of materialism while living in a very material world. The farmer is not condemned because he worked to produce a bumper crop, but his demise is viewed as tragic because he wrongly believed that his bulging barns would be his salvation.
• Read Hosea 11:1-11. God’s constant love, mercy, and grace allow for transformation. What would it be like if our sys- tems employed a justice designed to transform?
• Read Psalm 107:1-9, 43. From what captivity has God redeemed you?
• Read Colossians 3:1-11. What do you need to take away from your life in order to clothe yourself with the practices that re ect the image of God?
• Read Luke 12:13-21. How can you feel more satis ed with what you have? How will this allow you to share more with others?
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