Generous Justice

If there’s one thing we Americans do not do well, it’s handling money. We lose it. We spend it. We don’t like giving it away. Those of us who actually do handle money well tend to have the wrong attitude about it (pride much?), putting us back at square one. We typically forget that our money is not really ours at all. It’s God’s. We also tend to neglect what we are supposed to be doing with God’s money. Not only that, but we are supposed to be dealing with all of our resources, including time and possessions, in the same manner. This is where Generous Justice comes into play. Did you know that how you handle your money and things tells about how you understand the Gospel? Oh, how this book packs a punch. The kind that sends Mike Tyson into Build-A-Bear.

At first glance the cover may come off as being about penal substitution or something, but this book entails something much simpler yet deeper. God’s “justice” is more than just punishing the bad guys. Tim Keller takes a theological dive into Deuteronomy and unveils that true justice (called mishpat in Hebrew) is also about doing the right thing for the people as is due, like serving widows, feeding the poor, and providing for the needy. Keller uses Scripture to show that God expected Israel to leave no one behind in terms of material need, and that same provisional love extends to Christians today.

Using a combination of Scripture and anecdotes, the author paves the way on how to do social justice God’s way, not the political way or any other. The whole premise of the book is founded on Christ’s love for us. Keller asserts that a Christian should be able to look at a homeless person and feel love that causes them to provide for the person’s needs, because on a spiritual level we are all poor like the homeless man. We had no hope, and God showed us His grace, thus providing us with what we need (God’s justice). After experiencing God’s grace as such, we treat people in need with that loving justice as well (hence the subtitle, “How God’s Grace Makes Us Just”). In other words, if you aren’t generous with your time and money, that means you may not really understand the Gospel. Big words.

My favorite parts of this book were the practical ones. Tim Keller talks bluntly about the difference between numbered donations and actually getting your hands dirty in your community. In the last third of the book the author wades through many practical issues: what generosity looks like as a Christian individual, how the church works out this concept of being generous, and how the church can play a role in fighting corrupt local policies.

All in all, Generous Justice tackles a subject many Christians shy away from in an easy-to-read manner. This book really resonated with me as I feel that being generous (namely with money) has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I definitely recommend this to everyone, but if you have a hard time giving at any level you especially need to get your hands on this thing. You’ll how the heart of God goes out to those who society has long left behind.

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just

Being Happy Someone’s in Hell?

Just yesterday we found out that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. I’m glad that the villain has been vanquished. But I have a question for you — While I’m not God and don’t know everything, I’d bet money that the guy is probably in hell. How does that make you feel?

Already there has been controversy stirring around the celebration of his death. That phrase celebration of his death sounds a little weird when thought about. However, Osama was responsible for so many terrorist plans; justice has been properly administered. But to what extent? How should followers of Jesus respond, given that the God we worship is one of both love and justice?

Below is a piece written by my beautiful high school sweetheart, Hannah. She entitled it, “Can you really rejoice that someone’s in hell?”:

“I have mixed feelings about Bin Laden’s death. While I am happy that he is no longer a threat, I don’t rejoice in where he is now because without God’s grace I deserve the same.

It’s really hit me how crazy His grace is because it’s so totally undeserved. Try to wrap your mind around the thought that Jesus would have come and endured death on a cross just to save Hitler. Crazy, right? You are probably thinking, “Hitler is the worst person to have ever lived and he definitely doesn’t deserve the chance to be saved.” Neither do I, but that’s the thing about grace…no one deserves it, it’s given. Yet we live in a society where we constantly compare ourselves to others and are satisfied in ourselves as long as we are “better” than the person next to us.

The problem with that is that whether we are deemed a “good” or “bad” person by our friends, ourselves, or society, it won’t make a difference to God if we haven’t accepted salvation through His grace alone. Our actions don’t save us (they condemn us because no matter what we do, it’s never good enough), but a single choice can save us and it’s offered to all. It’s easy to judge others and think yourself superior (trust me, I’m quick to do it) but you have to remember that you aren’t the Judge. This really isn’t meant to be a “turn or burn” thing… It’s important for us to remember that we are ALL broken and have a Savior who wants to know each of us despite whatever we have done in our pasts.”

I’m so proud of her! What a deep and encouraging piece of writing. And I can’t help but agree with her. It’s great to rejoice at the times when good triumphs over evil (like now), but when you take pleasure from the fact that someone is being eternally punished in hell, a place where we deserve to go without God’s grace, you are treading on dangerous waters.

What are your thoughts? How does Osama’s death affect you?