“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” ~ Old Klingon Proverb
In talking about justice this morning, I found myself at odds. I don’t like justice…I like revenge. So there’s two questions I had to ask myself. 1) What is the difference between justice and revenge? 2) Why do I like revenge more than justice?
In response to question one here’s how I would define each term. Revenge is usually swift and causes greater pain and suffering to both parties. Revenge is often about one person taking a situation in their own hands, and ultimately reveals that the person is selfish, lacks self-control and is un-submissive. On the other hand justice takes time and requires patience and trust. It means that no matter the outcome you are submitted to someone or some greater power and their decision.
I think in my own life, I mistakingly see the world through harmonious cause and effect lenses. In that when an imbalance occurs something else has to happen in order to bring things back into harmony. So that, I don’t want justice for those that have been wronged, I want revenge. Not just any revenge either, I like full on Tarantino revenge! I want swift retribution to bring things back into balance. As a Christian I realize my belief in a harmonious cause and effect system is completely misaligned with what the Bible says.
C.S. Lewis wrote, and I’m paraphrasing, that evil does not exist in equal harmony, like we so often let ourselves believe, with good. But rather evil exists as a parasite on good. It’s very existence relies upon something else existing in order that it, evil, might find existence. The cause of evil and the effect of God playing catchup and responding to the cause of evil...is a horrible non-theological idea! Which brings me back full circle to revenge vs. justice. I want revenge, a form of justice, only because it quickly feeds my impatience and returns things to harmony…albeit a false harmony. Whereas full justice as a Christian, is only fulfilled by and through Jesus. It requires a patient prayer life and hope.
While we are called to patiently pray for Christ’s return…we also don’t sit idly by and watch the world go to hell in a hand basket. There is the faith piece to diligently pray…and then there’s the work/justice piece where we need to see what the Father is doing and partner with him in redeeming and righting wrongs created by evil in this world. So if you’re like me and you’re hungry for revenge…change your appetite for justice, because we’re running a marathon and not a race. The marathon requires us to have patience, endurance, a steady pace and will be more fulfilling as you help the kingdom to come. Whereas revenge leaves you unfulfilled and an insatiable desire for more ____________.