Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bringing justice the kingdom way

It's easy to talk about love and justice and peace in the abstract.  Everyone would probably agree that those are good things.  But how do we find them?  Do we find them by being loving and peaceful and trusting God to bring about justice?  Or do we chase after those ideas without giving thought to how our actions and attitudes affect other people?

The legal world is a veritable minefield of opportunities to act opposite to the principles of the Kingdom of God.  It's set up as an adversarial system--for whatever reason, someone decided a long time ago that the way we make justice happen is by having everyone fight tooth and nail for every inch of the dispute.  If you're getting a divorce, then of course the most fair outcome is going to happen when you fight your ex-spouse for every moment of parenting time and every dollar in alimony.  If you're a civil attorney, then you're definitely going to want to break the rules to give yourself an advantage but complain every time the opposing party does something wrong.

So every day, I have an opportunity (or maybe a challenge) about how I'm going to live.  Am I going to bring all of my choices to God in prayer and ask that God would give me wisdom and discernment in how to approach things?  Am I going to spend time seeking the best for everyone involved (including the victims of a crime as well as my client) rather than thinking of every way that I can make it hard for the other party?  Am I going to treat opposing counsel with grace and compassion in a system that is built to take advantage of those things?  Do I really believe that God is a God of justice and that the way he's chosen to bring that about is through love and compassion and sacrifice and humility and kindness?

In my heart, I do think that God's way is the best way.  I really do think that it's better for everyone if I treat the opposing party and their counsel with respect and kindness even if they've been terrible to me.  I do think that, in the end, my client wins when I play by God's value system.  I actually believe that fighting for my client includes seeing the bigger picture of how litigation affects the person's whole life.  But it's a constant struggle in this adversarial system to be a Christian.  It's a constant struggle to fight the urge to fight back just because I'm frustrated or annoyed rather than fighting for justice and for peace in the way and time that it's actually necessary and appropriate. 

So that's what bringing the Kingdom of God into my world looks like.  What about you?  What are the areas of your work or home life than conflict with God's values and purposes?  How are you challenged to choose his way?  What friends are helping you to figure out what it looks like in your life?

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