Originally written May of ’09
I was listening to NPR on the way home from work today and there was an interview that caught my attention (I know, I’m already an old man listening to NPR… I was smoking my pipe too, just to reinforce that image).
The topic at hand was the 2008 earthquake of Sichuan, China. More specifically, the shoddy construction of the schools that collapsed killing an estimated ten thousand school children.
The contractors cut corners in the construction. The government was paying them an amount appropriate for good construction, but they used poor materials and cut corners while giving kickbacks to the officials overseeing the project (at least that’s what we think happened). The long and short of it, corruption in combination with an earthquake killed thousands of innocent school children.
The interview I listened to on NPR today was of a mother of one of the children who died in a collapsed school.
The interviewer was asking questions about how many children died at the school, how old was her daughter, what did she enjoy… then, with reference to the corruption surrounding the situation, she asked the mother, “What would need to be done to make you feel like justice has been accomplished?”
The mother’s answer struck a chord in my spirit.
“They cannot bring back my daughter, how can justice be done?”
It occurred to me that this woman understands justice! Justice isn’t payback, retribution, revenge. It’s not making someone “pay for a crime.” Justice is restoring what is lost! It is making things right!
Justice would restore the children to life!
The woman didn’t stop there though, she continued, “I think the men responsible need to be held accountable. They should be put to death for their crime.”
Here we have it. This is the answer the interviewer was looking for… but in the question, the interviewer used the word “justice”, incorrectly I think, where this Chinese woman used the word “accountable”.
In our modern culture, I think we have mistaken
payback and preservation of society
Our “judicial system” is not about righting wrongs and restoring what is lost, no man can accomplish this… this is the work of God.
I would say that our judicial system is about preserving order in our society and is often reduced to “exacting revenge” on the perpetrator. Now don’t get me wrong here; although it may have its imperfections, I’m not saying that our judicial system is at fault in how it operates.
My point here is that we’ve confused retribution with making things right, and as a result have perverted the true meaning of justice.
I believe God WILL make things right in the end! This woman WILL get to enjoy her daughter again. Praise God!!
For those who are responsible for the deaths of these children, “it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-7). But, something tells me that won’t be the end of their story either…
If justice is “making things right”, as I believe it is, these men will also be “made right” in the end. These men are in need correction, and God will correct them. I believe this is what the true justice of God demands.
“For even as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive.”
1 Cor. 15:22