Taking Each Other to Court
1When one of you has a complaint against another, do you take your complaint to a court of sinners? Or do you take it to God's people? 2Don't you know that God's people will judge the world? And if you are going to judge the world, can't you settle small problems? 3Don't you know we will judge angels? And if this is so, we can surely judge everyday matters. 4Why do you take everyday complaints to judges who are not respected by the church? 5I say this to your shame. Aren't any of you wise enough to act as a judge between one follower and another? 6Why should one of you take another to be tried by unbelievers?
7When one of you takes another to court, all of you lose. It would be better to let yourselves be cheated and robbed. 8But instead, you cheat and rob other followers.
9Don't you know that evil people won't have a share in the blessings of God's kingdom? Don't fool yourselves! No one who is immoral or worships idols or is unfaithful in marriage or is a pervert or behaves like a homosexual 10will share in God's kingdom. Neither will any thief or greedy person or drunkard or anyone who curses and cheats others. 11Some of you used to be like that. But now the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of God's Spirit have washed you and made you holy and acceptable to God.
There’s a world of difference between what our society thinks of as justice, and that which characterizes the kingdom of God. The former is essentially state-sanctioned vengeance, bent on the punishment of anyone who breaches our individual rights or contravenes society’s rules. It’s reactive and reactionary, upholding the status quo. The latter proactively seeks to include the excluded, empower the weak, relieve the oppressed, and level the economic valleys and mountains. Kingdom justice doesn’t so much upset the status quo as give it a massive seismic shake, radically re-ordering or replacing the typical values of our world.
It’s absurd, then, to think that followers of Jesus could expect anything like real justice from a court that doesn’t know what justice is. When we adopt the standards of this world as a means of getting what we want, we’ve already lost, even if we win our case. Gain the world, lose your soul. It’s unjustice, and all the more so if we see other Christians as opponents.
Compared to the graces of the kingdom, the rights of this world are mean, paltry things, pale shadows of the mighty justice that has made saints of sinners. Imagine what kingdom justice would do if applied, for instance, to issues of race and economic disparity in our nation. It may be a frightening thought for those of us who just want to protect our own privilege – but a glorious vision!
Eternally just and gracious God, you submitted yourself to the injustice of humanity to set us free from oppression of every kind. Save us from lowering our standards to human values, and help us to stand for kingdom justice. In the name of our King, Jesus. Amen.