For all the “what really happened?” X-factors of Trayvon Martin’s murder, a few things stand out unquestioned. The history of white-black relations from the capture and enslavement of Africans to the present has been permeated with tension, mistrust, and violence. Whether or not the George Zimmerman incident had anything to do with race, this tragedy has ripped off a scab in the African-American community and raised again Rodney King’s question–both amongst blacks and toward other ethnicities–“Can we all get along?” With all the pain this history and these recent events have caused, what we need in such times is hope, hope that one day we all will indeed get along.
The yearning for justice and harmony drives many of our cultural stories. Consider the bad guys that show up on our screens, stages, and pages: the abusive husband, the emotionally manipulative mother (more often, stepmother), the corrupt politician, the greedy corporate fat cat, or the ruthless military leader. The first act establishes this bad guy’s tyrannical rule, the second act chronicles the hero or people’s fight for justice, and the final act shows the demise of the oppressor and the freedom of the oppressed.
Such is the hope that Jesus promises when he proclaims, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). When God makes all things new, he will banish from his restored creation “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable…murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars” (Revelation 21:8). Their destiny will be the lake of fire while the people of God will dwell with him in perfect communion. The celebration of justice in the third act will echo forward throughout eternity.
Pause for a moment to allow the hope of this good news to wash over you. In the kingdom Jesus is bringing, not a trace of unrighteousness will remain. Watchdog groups and activist movements will be rendered obsolete, because there will be no story to expose, no exploitation to uncover, no oppression to decry, no Trayvon Martin cases to debate. Those desires in all of us for human relationships to be whole and healthy and life-giving will be finally and forever satisfied.
Now consider the part of the story our culture does not tell, that of our need for spiritual reconciliation. As long as one ounce of rebellion toward God resides in our hearts, a world of harmony will never exist. The root of all these social injustices is our sinful posture before God. This is why educational development, charitable initiatives, economic stimulation, and new laws–for all the short-term good they can do–will never suffice to bring about lasting change. Only the eradication of sin from human hearts will make change last, and this is exactly what Jesus promises for those who trust in him.
Our hope lies in the day when we find ourselves in renewed bodies with renewed hearts that beat only for the glory of God. No more will we be tempted to worship pleasure, power, or comfort more than our Creator. No more will we question whether the great I AM can be trusted. No more will we attempt to rule our lives rather than submitting to the Sovereign Lord. Jesus’ death for us will have purged every trace of rebellion, unbelief, and disobedience from our hearts. We will be so perfectly centered on the glory of God that our first instinct will be to worship, trust, and obey him alone. We will forever taste the freedom of uninhibited intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This alone will create a society of justice in which there will be no poor, weak, or oppressed. Racial tensions will be a thing of the past. Violence will be non-existent. Locks on doors, insurance for wealth, vaults for treasures, and contracts for agreements will be unnecessary. Our restored communion with God will translate into perfect communion with one another. As we adore our King’s splendor and cultivate his new creation, each will get his due from the land and will enjoy the abundance of that perfected place. We will collaborate on work projects, share the land’s valuable resources, and create artistic expressions that tell the story of God’s redemption and grace. Harmony will be restored, and we will rest fulfilled in the joy of life as it was meant to be.
With this in mind, let us weep well over the tragedies of our day and hope well in the justice that is to come. And let us faithfully point others to this new creation and call them to trust and obey the crucified and risen Savior who made it possible.