Welcome to a new year of monthly views at the Abounding Love website. I pray this will be an exciting year as you build your trust in God. For me, I am dedicating this year to Restorative Justice, both for victims and offenders to be reconciled to God through the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you were to Google "restorative justice," several different views would come up. For instance, one view may stress spiritual restoration more than another. Any effort is a step in the right direction, but from my experience, it is hard to see a work of "justice" without God's grace working in our hearts to restore righteousness through faith in Christ. This work provides the ability to restore damaged relationships through a divine flow of truth, justice, peace, love, mercy, compassion, and humility available only through God.
Justice has to do with what is right and fair for all mankind. In the spiritual sense, we are all guilty, have sinned against God, and done His kingdom great harm, but...
"...God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfiy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when He did not punish those who sinned in former times. And He is entirely fair and just in this present time when He declares sinners to be right in His sight because they believe in Jesus."1
According to God's word, it is impossible for true restoration to occur without faith in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture continues: "Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law."2
Separation from God
My sin was separation from God, which created a multitude of victims. There was a way that seemed right to me, but my way resulted in death.3 I write with deep regret, knowing that many would be alive today if it were not for me. You may be able to identify with the empathy, but like the Psalmist David said: "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."4
Soon, I woke up to the pain I had caused so many victims. I was powerless to overcome the pain without God's help. It was trusting in my own ability that had caused these terrible consequences. Then, I was led to God's word, which said: "Don't be misled. Remember that you can't ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit."5
It wasn't long until I came to believe that Jesus Christ could restore me to sanity. So I turned my self-will and life over to the care of God. I became willing to give account for my actions and to face the consequences for my choices. Now, I hear the Holy Spirit saying: "...don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone."6
What Can We Do?
Of course, being restored by God is one thing, and being restored by the criminal justice system is another. The latter is all about punishment, whereas restorative justice is about doing what is right through being accountable and responsible. Nevertheless, I am extremely thankful for the mercy that I was shown in light of my original death sentence. I am reminded of God's word to the prophet Micah, saying: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"7 This is a question that God calls each of us to answer.
One thing we know from God's word is that blessings are connected with obedience to His standards. Such obedience can only be brought about by the power of the Spirit in the life of one who has been transformed by God's grace through faith. The prophet Zechariah says: "These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace."8
Today, we have truth, justice, and peace to walk in the love of God, because Jesus Christ, "...in human form obediently humbled himself by dying a criminal's death on a cross. Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."9
What Will You Do?
Jesus spoke harshly to the legalist of his days for ignoring the important matters of the law -- justice, mercy, and faith.10 To ignore Jesus Christ as the solution for restorative justice would be blindness for me, but everybody has the right to draw their own conclusions. I have offered a few of my insights on the subject because of an actual experience of restoration with a victim's family member, which made a tremendous impact upon my life.
During this coming year, Lord willing, I will continue to write on restorative justice by grace through faith. Throughout this website, you will find articles concerning restoration by grace, which will help you to build your faith towards restoration. My prayer is that you will receive God's restoration for yourself, since "...God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."11 Then may you see broken relationships made right.
Also, I hope to make contact with others who believe in restorative justice. As I do, their links will be provided to you. I hope to find a network of believers who I can work with to achieve the purposes of restorative justice. My prayer is that many will be restored as a result of the obedience of our Savior, Lord, and Righteousness, Jesus Christ.
A Prayer For You ...
Heavenly Father, I thank You for truth, justice, and peace that only You can provide to mankind. I pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I might grow in Your knowledge of restorative justice. I pray that my heart will be flooded with light so that I can understand the wonderful future You have promised. I want to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance You have given to those who believe. I pray for the ability to understand the incredible greatness of Your power to restore all things. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms, so we may pray in His Name - Amen!"
Related Link: Victim's Families
1 Rom. 3:24-26
2 Rom. 3:27, 28
3 Pro. 14:12
4 Psa. 27:13
5 Gal. 6:7, 8
6 Gal. 6:9, 10
7 Micah 6:8
8 Zech. 8:16
9 Phil. 2:8-11
10 Matt. 23:23
11 Eph. 1:17-21
Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Sherry for transcribing this months view!