what is justice and why do we want it?

What does justice look like to you? A stranger sitting behind a bench universally applying the same standard to all? Someone you’ve never met deciding your fate and punishing you for your actions?

I would submit that justice is greater than that. God as Judge acts to make things right. He does not want to punish, but to renew. He knows you perfectly, and he knows what best works to wipe away every tear and correct every injustice. He doesn’t have to kill you to make things right. You do die (to your old self), but God, as Judge, then resurrects his original, perfect creation.

Justice isn’t punishment; it is renewal.

When you ask for justice, you are not asking to be stricken down for your sins, you are asking for God’s perfect kingdom. Don’t abuse the word “justice” by calling for the deaths of terrorists or enemies or baby killers. We all deserve death, but that is not what God wants.

Thanks be to God! The old has passed, behold — he makes all things new! All things!

Advertisements

the ugly truth.

You’re hurt. I get it. I can’t emphasize how much I sympathize. I can’t explain how much I understand your pain. Please don’t forget, when I say what’s next, what I said first. I’m not asking you not to hurt.

I’m asking you not to give up.

I’m asking you to see the good and understand that the bad is just a fad that will be eradicated. I’m asking you «compartir en el idealismo conmigo». When I say ideal, I don’t mean something that won’t happen; I mean something that has already happened, we just don’t see it yet. I’m not asking you to be ignorant, just hopeful and without regret.

I see the ugly, really, I do. I just know ugly turns to beautiful when confronted with Truth. And I know the Truth is here, we are just too often blind. Truth came, died, and created new life. The truth is, the world is a beautiful place. And truth is something pain and evil cannot erase.

God, if he exists, is no help, is he?

People everywhere are unsatisfied with the policies and the job performance of God. Polls are increasingly showing disinterest and disenfranchisement. God is no longer relevant to a generation which has spent the entirety of its formative years in the Age of Democracy, choosing for themselves that which is right and that which is wrong.

And now people demand a new king, a man of the people, a man they chose. The people demand to decide for themselves what is acceptable and what is not. If God is going to be Lord over them, then he must protect them, and he isn’t doing that. There is war, death, famine, AIDS, flu, poverty, preventable oppression and sickness.

The people are upset with the methods of God. Because there is no earthly way this makes sense.

The people want a new king, just as Israel demanded a physical, human ruler. The people are demanding that God be deposed for his ineptitude in regards to either benevolence or potency — they aren’t sure which. Either God is not good, or he is not powerful enough. Either way, he is underperforming and must go. They want their King Saul, their immediate, tangible results. They haven’t considered the flaws of created beings as rulers: they only want change, and someone who understands their plight.

But what if there was someone who understood the struggle in which all humans are forced to participate? What if this person were also deity? How much of a game-changer would that be?

This is the hope of Christ: he knows our plight, he knows our pain, he empathizes with the struggle and pain, and he advocates on our behalf. God wanted a direct connection to humanity, and humanity needed a way to God. This God that would otherwise not be relevant to our culture (unless you were Jewish), is now relevant to all and is working to bring about perfection and renewal in this world, for all.

I don’t understand everything. There is much room in my theology for mystery. I probably misrepresented some things already. There are logical paradoxes. But what I do know is that I have exhausted my mental resources trying to rely on my own capacity to know and understand. It is of utmost arrogance to claim God doesn’t exist because you don’t understand him. Of course we don’t! But for Christ, we wouldn’t even have any connection to him. Even with Christ, understanding comes slowly, because humans operate on a different level than Deus.

Imagine with me for one second that there is a Creator. The created could never outsmart or even fully understand the Creator, just as anything humans create cannot fully understand its creator (robot, computer, what-have-you). If there is a God, you should hope you don’t understand him: if you did understand him completely, he’d be human, at which point all hope would be lost. Humanity is engaged in a struggle, and the only hope is external. If my hope is in man alone, I have no hope.

None of this proves God’s existence. Don’t misunderstand: my point isn’t to defend or prove God’s existence. With words and logic alone, I cannot. My point — my hope — in writing this to be honest about the state of humanity, but also honest about the hope I have found in Christ. If you think my hope foolish, so be it. I do understand. The Bible itself calls the message of Christ foolish (until you have experienced it). I do hope and pray, though, that you will experience the hope and love and incredible peace that Christ brings. And I hope it changes you into a more hopeful, loving, peaceful person.

That is the hope of the world; not that man can change himself through internal willpower, but that an external force can draw the good deep from the well of your spirit, and fill you with things you lacked before.

That is why I am hopeful and optimistic for the future of humanity: when humans experience the indescribable peace and love of Christ, and connect their souls to God, they becomes a new creation. The old has passed away and the new takes its place. I pray and work for renewal in this earth, even while this earth seems to fall apart.

I’m sorry for preaching. I truly believe this and I truly have experienced this. I have no reason to lie to you and no reason to share this with you other than that I believe it.

Christ asked those who would later become his disciples, “follow me,”

That’s all. No contrived or forced prayer, no trembling or shaking necessary. Just follow him. Drop the selfish plans you had and pick up his: plans of love, peace, joy, and hope.

Thanks for reading,

Greg Tanis
918.430.9378
gtanis@oru.edu

Please sign my petition.

I am passionately Christian. If you’re as conservative and Christian and heterosexual as can be, please read this. And, if you’re as liberal and atheist and gay as can be, please read this. This is something everyone should know and something we really should all agree on.

There are these things called “gay camps.” It’s like “fat camps” for gay children, except they don’t work. And they lead to emotional and psychological trauma and in cases have led children to take their own lives.

No matter what you think about the issue of homosexuality, I think we can reasonably assume you don’t want gays dead (unless you’re Westboro) or emotionally traumatized. Christians, we mustn’t, in our vigor for righteousness, forsake the wellbeing of the individual. Reparative therapy (attempts to forcibly change another’s sexual orientation) has been widely condemned in the sociological/psychological community, and (more importantly, in my opinion) is inconsistent with the character of God and the message of Christ.

Most Christians think homosexuality is wrong because it is detrimental to the individual. I agree. However, I think any number of other sins, many of which I personally struggle with, are also detrimental to the individual. But, nobody wants to send me to any camps where they plug me up to electricity or pump me with drugs to change my behavior. Why should I do it to them? Aside from being ineffective, reparative therapy is undeniably unethical.

How did Jesus treat humanity, lost in sin? With love. And love is what prevailed. Even when you’re right, you have to be right in love (“speak the truth in love”). Christians, we should not be caught dead supporting anything that treats other individuals like second-class human being. We should stand up and advocate for those who are being oppressed, as Christ does for us.

There are people, I believe, who are naturally more inclined to be tempted by homosexuality. There are people that are born without a sexuality, I believe. We must accept that everyone is not like us. Paul never married. Jesus never married. Were they homosexual? No. Were they heterosexual? No.

Simply because someone is not heterosexual like you does not mean they need to be sent to a camp and physically and/or psychologically tortured. What if they’re neither? What if they’re just themselves? Can we accept that?

Whatever your views on homosexuality, we really should find common ground in this: forced reparative therapy does not work and does harm, not good. God, when helping us, does not work how we think he would. He does not begin where we think he would. Thusly, we must turn the individuals over to God and trust him to make them whole in his own way and in his own timing. How do we bring them to God and wholeness? Love. Forced reparative therapy is not love. If there is any love in it, it is strongly misguided. Let’s take a stand against it and show the gay community that we do in fact love them.

Below is a petition I hope you’ll consider signing to protect minors from zealous parents who would like to forcibly subject their children to reparative therapy.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/formally-denounce-reparative-homosexual-therapy-and-force-medical-licensing-agencies-deem-it/Gwwcj8NV

Thank you for reading. Please pass this along.

-Gregory Tanis

THE LAW

Romans 10:4

‘Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.’

Maybe this is all very basic, but it’s exciting to me. To the best of my understanding, Romans 10 releases Christians to do exactly what they were doing before. Before the Law was replaced by Christ, those who followed God were obligated to do his will by following his express commands. After Christ became the fulfillment of the Law, everything changed. God created an atmosphere which, to this Arminian, appears to be centered around choice.

God’s will did not change. The only thing that changed was how we go about accomplishing it. Before Christ, it was very systematic. There were rules, given by rulers and prophets; and if you wanted to be close to God, you followed them. Post-resurrection Christians have a slightly different dynamic. For us, if we want to be close to God, we find out his desires (what he wants us to do and not to do- i.e. “rules” or “the Law”). He wants more of a back-and-forth, more intimacy involved. I believe this deepens the relationship; when we choose him and find out his will, it makes the Law our own.

For the politicians, I’ll put it this way: God wants a Libertarian system instead of a Fascist one. (This in no way makes God a Libertarian. This is simply to illustrate a point. Even though he might possibly be a Libertarian. Just kidding. But really.) God wants us all to choose him and find out on our own that we want to do what is right. He doesn’t want to have to force us. He wants us to carry our weight. He wants us connected to his Spirit.

For the artists, I’ll put it this way: God wants you to paint on a blank canvas, not a coloring book. God doesn’t want you to paint by numbers, die, and turn in your painting, saying, “Look, God, I did everything according to the book, just like you asked.” Surely, we should follow God’s Word, but I’m talking about the attitude here. God wants us to start with a blank canvas and yet be so connected to him that we paint exactly what he wants us to paint. He wants the relationship, the pursuit. He desires love, not simply sacrifice. This happens through his Holy Spirit.

The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to teach our spirits how to be like God’s. Notice that the Holy Spirit was given after Jesus resurrected and fulfilled the Law. This is because the Holy Spirit did not belong under the Old Covenant. Essentially, the Holy Spirit replaces the Law, yet is the Law exactly. It’s a bit of an abstract point that I’ve been trying to grasp for years. Let me now interject a disclaimer: I say what I say with the best heart; yet I may be wrong in areas. It’s a nuanced concept, I believe, and I’m sure I don’t understand it in its entirety.

For the parents, I’ll put it this way: the point of parenting is so that your children adopt your rules. Parenting is futile if it simply establishes rules that the child must follow, but never encourages them to adopt the rules as their own. I believe Christ fulfilling the Law was God’s way of pushing us out of the spiritual nest. He is saying, “Go. Figure me out.” He’s done revealing himself on a mass scale, through prophets, to whole nations. That is what the Holy Spirit is for, and he does it on an individual basis.

The Law can give us glimpses of God’s expectations and character, but it cannot reveal fully to the reader what God has for that specific person. In Romans 10:5-8, Paul explains how followers of God used to listen to the prophets to hear God’s Law, but now, ‘“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and heart.”’

The words God has to tell to his children are personalized. Reading the Law without the guidance of the Holy Spirit- even following the Law without truly desiring it- is simply painting by numbers. Simply being a member of a Fascist regime. Simply being a well-behaved child with a rebellious heart. God wants you to desire him, to learn from him, not simply to follow the Law. If the Law did not exist, those who truly know God would not be acting any differently. That is the Law fulfilled through Christ.

Justice vs. Judgement (connotatively)

God is Judge. The final, ultimate judge that administers justice. Why should this be a scary concept? Do we not want justice? Is that not what we desire? Surely, justice will be uncomfortable for some and in some areas, but we should eagerly long for judgement because judgement, from a merciful God, is justice.

We must not equate God as Judge to our American understanding of “justice.” We must not view God as a judge in our court systems, which can only universally apply the law, whether just or not. God is the arbitrator who can see all and know what the best outcome is. God uses justice to solve problems. Worldly judges can only make a person pay for their actions. Seek justice, not only judgement, for justice heals.

on why Evangelism is good but not Christlike.

Jesus never said, “go and evangelize,” or “go and make Christian.” He said “go and make disciples of all nations.” It was not simply salvation that Jesus desired for mankind, but a change of lifestyle. Christianity is about so much more than getting to heaven, it is about walking in the kingdom of God. It’s not over when we get to heaven; it’s only begun! We want to be as prepared as possible for heaven by the time we get there so that we can continue walking in God’s purpose.

Typical evangelism, such as short-term missions, is great, but mostly for your benefit. Real evangelizing means making disciples, not just Christians. Real evangelicalism should center around sustainable discipleship and community.

To evangelize without discipleship is to get someone to heaven but not to teach them how God’s kingdom runs. It’s inconsiderate, really. They will be utterly unprepared for how vastly different heaven is than earth.

Let us walk in the kingdom of God now, denying the systems of a fallen world! Let us rejoice that Christ has redeemed the earth and let us proclaim a new kingdom rather than simple salvation from the old one. Go forth with this new kingdom and its glory on your lips. Disciple as Jesus did. Christianity is not meant to be entry into a new kingdom alone; it is the consistent act of walking in that kingdom.