In Justice from a Human Perspective, I explored the phenomenon that the vast majority of people have an inner sense of justice that is pricked every time they experience injustice themselves or by people they know and love. The very protest, “That’s not fair!” implies that the protester believes others should recognize it.
We have an innate sense of justice, and we innately feel that others should recognize the justice or injustice we see and feel. We do have have much general agreement, but the disagreements are many at the same time. Those disagreements might be attributable to our perspectives, which are limited and, therefore, subjective.
Thus, we can’t anchor an objective standard of justice in people. It must be anchored in something more immutable, like God (see Justice from God’s Perspective), but how do we know justice from God’s perspective?
I submit that we don’t… we can’t, unless He reveals it to us.
In the Bible we what purports to be a record of God’s communication and involvement in the history of men. While, I admit that we can learn something about justice in other religious books and literature, for many reasons I think the fullest and most accurate record of God’s revelation, generally, and of justice, specifically, is found in Scripture.
You might disagree with me, but stick with me as I consider the following story about Jesus that provides us some perspective on the issue.
“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and
wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.
Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – ‘Life’.
Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a $300 or $30 watch – they both tell the same time…
Whether we carry a $300 or $30 wallet/handbag – the amount of money inside is the same;
Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and distance is the same, and we get to the same destination.
Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $10 wine – the hangover is the same;
Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq. ft. – loneliness is the same.
You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.
Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down – you go down with it….”
These are the last words from Steve Jobs, reportedly.
I return to this same theme often in my thinking and writing: this life is short. We put so much energy into it, and we act often as if our time on this Earth will continue indefinitely, but it won’t. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, wealthy or powerful a person is, death is inevitable.
The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain, the famous cook, food connoisseur and TV personality, and fashion designer, Kate Spade, are reminders that health, wealth, fame and influence do not satisfy our deepest longings and do not provide sufficient meaning or purpose in life to overcome depression. Many very wealthy and influential people have taken their own lives, suggesting that having everything a person might desire in the material world still leaves us lacking. So what is the point of life?
I have experienced an awful lot of dying in my world recently. People that I know, friends and family of people that I know, one after another, many people in my world are dying lately.
Frankly, from the moment we are born, we begin to die. This isn’t a pleasant thought, but this is where my head is going as I read my Facebook feed, offering condolences, prayers and thoughts, one after another.
Our cells begin to die off from the moment we are born. Sure, they regenerate. Our cells die off and regenerate throughout our lives. As our lives go on, however, the dying process speeds up, it picks up in intensity, the dying outpaces the regeneration and it results, eventually, in our natural deaths… if something doesn’t kill us sooner.
It could be depressing to think about. On the other hand, it is natural. This is the way it is.
Why do we even care?
Really, why does death bother us so much? Does my dog think about dying?
If death is simply a fact, a matter of life, a natural phenomenon, what’s gotten into our heads about it? How do we explain our preoccupation with death?
Perspective makes all the difference in how we see the world and live our lives. The perspective of faith is wholly different than the perspective of skepticism. The person who has been born again, born from above, born of the spirit, is a new creature; the new has come and the old has passed away. We are no longer of this world, though we continue to live in it.
Do we really grasp the meaning of these things? Sometimes I wonder. I wonder about myself as I look back at the things that have captured my attention at times, the anxiety and worries I have had about temporal things, and all the time I have wasted doing trivial things.
“[T]he wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
We tend to view sin in moralistic terms, but I wonder sometimes if we might look at sin in non-moralistic terms. The adage, “we are what we eat”, is an apt description for sin. How we eat is a moral issue for some people, but most people (or many at least) don’t view eating that way.
We tend to view sin in moralistic terms, as in reaping what we sow.  What if we try to take the morality out of the discussion? What would we have left?
Although sin is a moral issue at heart, the emotion of morality in this modern, post-Christian age in the US may obscure how we view sin and the relationship between sin and death.
If God doesn’t exist, we create our own morality, and your morality might be different than my morality. The morality that is predominant in my community, may not be the morality to which your community subscribes. No one is ultimately right, and no one is ultimately wrong, except that those with the power and influence get to set the standard.
But that’s not what this piece is about. Let’s put aside the issue of morality and take the emotion out of the equation. Let’s take the emotion out of sin and see what is left.