“What most people think is justice is revenge. And that is just another manifestation of injustice.”

“What most people think is justice is revenge. And that is just another manifestation of injustice”.

Kent Burgess

“We have been shaped by a narrative that leaves us completely in the dark with regard to how horribly we treat one another and how unjustly that leaves us living with one another”.

Kent Burgess

“Martens did a masterful job of defining the Hebrew word for justice, mishpat. In western society we have come to understand justice as something we receive (I am a victim, I demand justice) or we dispense (he was convicted and justice was served). But mishpat could best be defined as “honorable relations.” Justice is something that we do in relationship with others. It is active not passive. The goal is shalom — not merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of harmony in relationships. What might a country look like if it practiced this kind of justice?”

~ Tim Nuefeld

Yes, as noted by Kent Burgess, the predominant narrative that shapes society as a whole is one based on revenge, or retributive justice, which is perhaps summed up in the Old Testament saying “an eye for an eye”. Indeed, instead of justice, revenge is just another manifestation of injustice. This vengeance-based narrative is probably rooted in the dualistic mindset, as symbolised by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and has resulted in and perpetuated violence and injustice in the world. It reminds me of the scene in which the disciples asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy their “enemies” just as Elijah did, and Jesus replied saying they knew not what manner of spirit they were of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy people’s lives but to save them. So, it is wonderful that Jesus came to challenge the old view of justice and introduce and demonstrate the new view of justice, which is restorative justice that brings about shalom and harmony in relationships among humanity.

“Man rejects, ridicules, and retaliates but God embraces, accepts, and forgives.”

Duane Alan Hahn

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