Can justice and mercy hold hands?
A few weeks ago, a member of our small group said that he struggles with the events that God allowed in the Old Testament times - the entire world drowning except for one family and a handful of animals, entire cities destroyed (women, children, possessions, livestock...). It just all seems so gratuitous for a God who claims to love indifferently and who is allowing such evils to prevail today in order to wait on the appointed number of believers who will be redeemed to come to faith.
If I'm being honest with myself, I admit that I tend to ignore that side of God and only focus on His loving attributes. It's easier for me to want to worship Him if I do that. How can I know that all this death occured and still call Him just and merciful? It seems like He picked a few favorites and then to hell with everyone else? (not meaning to come on so strong here, just talking through my thoughts.) I have no idea where the souls of those people are now. I don't know if they were given the same chance at redemption as I've been given. I just don't know.
But you know what? I don't have to know. Who am I to question God?
Over on the IJM Institute blog, a few of us are talking about this very topic. One of the commentors quoted a former teacher of a friend of hers. Here's the quote:
“Sometimes things in Scripture (or in the world, or in life) make it seem like God isn’t very just, or merciful, or loving because of the injustice, the hardness, and the hatred that we see. We try to filter God through our own understanding. BUT we can’t teach God justice or love. He is the definition of these things. So the question isn’t, “God, what’s wrong with You here?” Instead, the question really is-- “What’s wrong with ME here? How is my perspective wrong?” God IS just. God IS loving. God IS merciful. If He appears less than so to my finite mind, it’s because He’s BIGGER than my mind can comprehend.”
Isn't that profound? Furthermore, grace and mercy would mean nothing if not for our knowledge of what we are being saved from. If not given an example, how would we know what God is capable of? For the Good News to be understood as truly good, we need to know the Bad News first.