To read Part 1, follow this link: https://smallthingsgreatloveblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/perspective-part-1/
A second bias that can hinder our pursuit of justice is the reality that we want to help people who deserve it.
Within each of us, there lies a certain value system, shaped by our background and experience that determines who is deserving of our mercy. Though these values vary by person, I see culture and society playing an important rule in driving these determinations. For example, American society is one that equally values hard work and individualism. Americans generally believe that anyone, with enough effort and grit, can make their way out of any negative circumstance and achieve their own happiness. It’s not uncommon to see this value trickle down into our view of justice and mercy. In regards to the economically poor, we as a culture are more sympathetic towards those who find themselves in situational poverty than those who are trapped in generational poverty. Even beyond economics, we are often more willing to reach down and rescue a drowning man who is trying to swim towards the life boat than he who simply flails in the waves.
This merit-based version of justice, though wholly American, is not much like Jesus at all. In one of his powerful sermons, Jonathan Edwards wisely said, “Christ loved us, and was kind to us, and was willing to relieve us, though we were very hateful person, of an evil disposition, not deserving of any good…so we should be willing to be kind to those who are very undeserving.”
If we determine that some are worthy of our mercy and others are not, we have failed to understand the Gospel of grace. To quote Tim Keller’s Generous Justice once more, “You cannot say to them, “Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps!” because you certainly did not do that spiritually. Jesus intervened for you. And you cannot say, “I won’t help you because you got yourself into this mess,” since God came to earth, moved into your spiritually poor neighborhood, as it were, and helped you even though your spiritual problems were your own fault. In other words, when Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror.”
We were awarded grace on no merit of our own and that grace should make us just!
Part 3 coming soon!