No justice; no peace.
It is one of the most natural aspects of humanity to demand justice. There is an innate sense of right and wrong so much so that as people we form societies on ought’s and ought-not’s. When the ought-not’s take place we demand that justice be administered so as to balance the scales and set things right in society. In fact, justice is one of the most recognized ought’s in human culture. It is an objective standard that we appeal to when an ought-not takes place. We demand justice when someone violates our rights or the rights of other people and that is a good and right thing for us to do.
The reason for this is because we are created in the image of God who is Just. Justice is a standard that lies outside of the realm of subjective preferences. We know that when a man breaks into another man’s home and takes something that does not belong to him, or when one man takes the life of another man, that there must be some sort of retribution to pay. This is due to the simple fact that God has ingrained in us the sense of “good” and “evil”—we are moral creatures.
Peace is also a common desire that humans share. Justice and peace are not exclusive; rather they flow from one another. We demand justice because it is a disruption of peace, and when we have peace it is because people are acting just towards one another and injustice is punished. The oft repeated mantra being recited through the streets of New Orleans and other places in the country right now is, therefore, a worthy and noble saying. It is right to say that when there is no justice, there is no peace.
Unfortunately the ones protesting in this way (or at least the ones I’ve witnessed on social media and various news outlets) do not have the proper framework from which to consistently hold to this view. If they did, we would see these protests being done in a much different way. It is strikingly ironic when the ones calling for justice are the very ones promoting injustice. I understand that the point they are making is that they will not let peace reign unless justice prevails. Yet the injustice is being leveled against commuters on highways and against the citizens in the neighborhoods where these marches are taking place, and that is not being taken into consideration. In other words, you cannot hold a group of people to a standard that you are not willing to live by. The old argument of, “They did it first!” is not one made from a sense of justice or out of a duty to pursue peace.
Christianity is the only worldview from which we can draw the ideas of justice or peace. It is because of the Triune God of the Bible and the fact that He has created that we can look at things and say to ourselves, “that isn’t right”. Without this foundation, the cries for justice and the pursuit of peace have no chance of sustaining a movement. Justice and peace as ideas will fail to be maintained because they will be built on the shadow of what they are and not the substance of what they are. Human philosophy and tradition is empty whereas Christ is the fullness of deity dwelling bodily (Colossians 2:8-10). Jesus is the prototypical image of God and as such He represents the epitome of justice and of peace. Christ suffered the worst offense of injustice in order to provide peace for His people by defeating His enemies and over coming the grave. It is once we establish our worldviews on those facts that we can plead for justice and offer hurting people peace.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was also the purest expression of justice that there will ever be. God demonstrated His justice by pouring out His wrath against injustice on Jesus instead of on His people. This had to be done because God cannot wink at sin, justice must be administered. If we, as mere humans, can feel such outrage when men commit atrocious acts of injustice, how much more when men commit atrocious acts of injustice against the Just One. Why do we feel the need to call for justice lest there be no peace, when in the very same breath we violate the Law of God and therefore commit an eternally unjust act?
In order to rightly call for justice we must understand it. Majority of the people marching to this phrase simply do not have that understanding, which is why the calls for justice will fail and peace will always elude them. The protestor’s first need to have their unjust acts dealt with before they can operate in a just way.
It is true that unless there be justice, there will be no peace.