Christian theology in a Sudanese context. The essential nature and character of God.
The Justice of God Righteousness and justice are two English words that translate the same word groups from Hebrew (tsedek) and Greek (dikaios). Once a student in my class at Gereif was asked to give his own definition of God’s righteousness. He stood and said: “God’s holy conformity with Himself in the Old Testament, interpreted by His relationship to His creation”. His fellow students were laughing at the way he said it and I think he may have been reading from a study-Bible! They were not his own words at all! But perhaps I am doing him an injustice! Maybe it genuinely was his own definition. Since God’s character is holy, righteousness and justice are evident in His dealings with humanity. Right-eousness means He will always do what is right (Deuteronomy 32:3-4; Psalm 145:17). God Himself decides what is right and what is wrong. His justice means that He will always reward the right and punish the wrong. On a number of roadsides around the three cities of Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman, men set up stalls or shops to sell the clay pots they have made. Some of the pots are used for holding water, others for earth and garden plants, while the more brightly coloured ones are only for decoration. Paul says that we are like the clay while God is like the potter. We cannot say to God, ‘Why do you do this and not that?’ The potter has every right to make what he wants from the clay! (Romans 9:19-21; Isaiah 64:8). However, because we know that God is perfectly just and right, we need never be afraid of Him being bribed or corrupted in some other way, in His dealings with us. God is our judge. He keeps a record of all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:10). God has authority to pass sentence on us. But he does not balance our good deeds against our bad deeds and deal with us according to the credit or debit balance! A Muslim expects ‘Allah Al-Adl’ to be fair in giving out what is due to everyone. One tradition pictures Allah giving ‘shade’ on a day when there is no other shade, but he gives it only to fair-minded imams, to young men who really love Allah, to people whose hearts are attached to their mosques, to men who turn down illicit sex out of fear of Allah, and to men who give secretly to charity.
As a Christian I know I cannot possibly deserve anything but punishment at God’s judgement. God’s justice would be compromised if He simply ignored my sin or said it did not matter. So as a Christian I trust myself to a Saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ made atonement for the sins of the world when He died on the cross. Jesus represented me in taking the punishment I deserved. God can justly forgive me, because the penalty has already been paid by my Saviour (Romans 3:23-26).
If you were ever taken to one of the Ministry of Justice law courts, to be tried for an alleged crime, you would be entitled to a lawyer who would defend you. In God’s final court, Jesus Christ is the only defence advocate (1 John 2:1-2). A Christian can say with Job that he is trusting in Another to save him on judgement day, not trusting in his own good deeds (Job 16:19-21).
Thinking it through.
(a). What is the difference between ‘being given justice’ by God, and ‘getting what we deserve’ from Him?
(b). Bribery may get you what you want – but is it ‘just’?
(c).How do the other attributes of God that we have seen, give us the confidence that God will always be just and fair?