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Delayed but not denied (Law & Order)

I’m hooked on all of the Law & Order shows.  They fascinate me for several reasons.  One is that the plotline is usually somewhat involved, with at least a couple of good twists in each episode.  This mirrors the tension between appearance and reality in life as I know it.  In fact, the shows are so real life that many of its stories are lifted right off the front page (despite the shows' legal disclaimers).  Then too, I admire the detectives and the people from the district attorney’s office who are such dogged pursuers of truth and justice.  And the majority of the time, the jury gets the verdict right (I’ve even caught myself giving a “Yessss!” to certain verdicts).


Still, it’s not a perfect world.  There is the uneven terrain of plea bargains, civil rights issues, and judge’s rulings to be negotiated.  Sometimes justice is delayed because of these, sometimes it is denied.  In any case, it seldom moves forward in a straight line, it almost always meanders over a circuitous route before making its appearance. 


It seems to me that one of the difficulties attached to unbelief comes exactly at this point.  If there is no God, there is no judgment.  If there is no judgment, there is no justice in the absolute or total sense.  There is only the imperfect justice of Law and Order in countries embracing democracy or some other form of government that make an attempt to recognize the rights of all people. 


But what of other places?  What of other times?  What of the countless, multiplied episodes of unrighteousness that have occurred down through the centuries?  Did those who lived as though might made right get away with their crimes?  Is the best we can do to shrug our shoulders, wipe our brow, and be grateful for our legal system?  For any good person (believer or unbeliever), the thought of no ultimate justice should be quite disturbing.  Who wouldn’t cringe at the idea that the history’s victims will receive no vindication and its fiends no retribution?  It is the better part of man that yearns for justice.  Yet if life ends at the grave, so do any hopes for justice.


Paul told a group of philosophers in Greece that perfect justice was more than a matter of theoretical speculation, it was a day marked on God’s calendar.  He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead,” (Acts 17:31).  The One who rose from the grave will dispense justice beyond the grave.  Justice may be delayed, but it will not be denied.  We have God’s word on it and that’s good news for all who love what is right, isn’t it?


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