A while back, there was an article in the local paper written by a reporter who got to witness the execution

of a man in Utah who was convicted of two murders. Apparently, it was the first execution by firing squad in Utah (the only state that still permits such a method) since 1996, which was made it a news-worthy event. Perhaps you heard about it²the media certainly enjoyed the occasion. The reporter chronicled the final moments of this man, who had no final words, and how the bullets ripped through the target on the left side of his chest without much flair or excitement. There was no visible blood pouring out, and there was no dramatic reaction from the condemned man save a clenched fist. By all standards, justice was carried out swiftly and cleanly in this execution, despite the seemingly archaic method. Yes, justice was served here. This man killed a man in a robbery, then years later killed again and severely wounded another man. He was a violent offender, a ruthless criminal, the scum of humanity. He got what he deserved. People may argue about the ethics of the death penalty, but the issue at hand here is justice. This man killed, so he was killed. This speaks to how we as a society define justice--evening things out, keeping things fair. Justice, karma, fairness, equity² these are the things that keep society in order, and for which our justice system works for. These are good things. And yet, as I read this article chronicling this man's death, I hated almost every word of it. Not just because I'm a pacifist and don't support the death penalty. But because in the world's eyes, this was so right. A man's life ended, probably without him knowing any form of redemption, and Lady Justice smiled on (although I don't know how she sees through that blindfold). It was then that I realized that at the root of my discomfort with this was in the inconsistencies between definitions of justice. I believe God defines justice much differently than any government does. Or rather, maybe at the root they're the same definition, but the end and means of justice are different. We can still define justice as "making things right." But to what end? What is "right"? To the world, it's almost as if the end is to even the playing field, as if killing the bad guys will create more good in the world. But to God, the end goal is to bring people back to Him, to the way He intended us to live within His purposes. That which is right, or righteous, is that which is within God's purposes and intentions for mankind. God's justice is about us, being reconciled with Him. For God, the means of that justice are the forgiveness and redemption offered to us through Jesus Christ. God's justice is rooted in His love for His fallen children. God's justice is in the open arms of the father embracing the prodigal son. God's justice is in the anxious heart of the shepherd searching for that one lost sheep. God's justice is in the blood of a Savior who was crucified unjustly on a Roman cross. God's justice isn't about getting what you deserve; it's about Grace. Praise God that we do not get what we deserve. Because we all deserve eternal punishment. We are sinners who live in a fallen world. We have fallen away from God and from our purpose as created beings. Real justice is getting us back to that purpose, back to God. Real justice is grace.

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