In recent weeks, our headlines were dominated by national hearings and a local trial. The hearings, of course, centered around the qualifications for a prospective justice to sit on the highest court in the land. The trial centered around the guilt or innocence of a Chicago Police officer in the line of duty. It would be an understatement to say that not everyone was in agreement with the outcome of either proceeding. It is far from an understatement to say that not everyone was in an agreement with the process of either proceeding.
Although we Americans pride ourselves in the civil liberties and due process of law that our nation was founded upon, the high profile cases of the past two weeks only reveal how fraught with conflict the elements of due process can be. Should a particular witness be allowed to testify? Should incidents that happened long ago be considered relevant? Should the trial have been moved to a different location to ensure objectivity? Are political motives driving the wave of support for considering certain testimony either relevant or irrelevant? Should the jury that was selected have been more racially balanced?
We long for “perfect justice” in this world, but it is so elusive. And there is a reason why it is so elusive. It’s not because the system is imperfect (although it is imperfect), or because no one can truly be objective (although they can’t be). Perfect justice is so elusive in this world because the “highest court in the land” really belongs to the One who is the Most High.
I noticed during the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh that the same two crucial elements that should be the hallmark of every potential Supreme Court Justice hearing dominated his consideration. The first was the matter of his personal character and integrity. The second was his commitment to the U.S. Constitution in the rulings of his judicial track record. In both of these areas there were layers of questions and questions that revealed even more questions. And if we take the time and effort to really hear what these hearings said, we must face two uncomfortable truths: the character of our justices is not perfect, and neither is our Constitution. And there has never been a confirmation hearing past, present, or future that will reveal otherwise.
But thankfully, what has also been revealed to us is the fact that perfect justice is embedded and flows out of the Most High and His judgments. Scripture speaks to these very two areas of human weakness ripped from the headlines of today and clearly and convincingly reveals the perfection of God. The Psalms are replete with not only the revelation of God’s perfect righteousness, truth, and justice with regard to His very being, but that “He judges the world with righteousness; He judges the peoples with uprightness” (Ps. 9:8). And, while our forefathers fought for the right to write and frame a Constitution that has consistently been subjected to scrutiny, what the Word of God declares about itself speaks only perfection.
Recently I engaged in a little exercise that drove these contrasts home to me in a profound way. I suggest you try it some time. Take a few moments to consider our U.S. Constitution—a constitution, mind you, that many consider a representation of the collaboration, insight, and foresight of the greatest minds in history. Then consider how it has been interpreted, amended, re-interpreted, and debated throughout our country’s young history. And then, after considering all of that for a few moments, read Psalm 119.
Human justice has a shelf life, and we should all be thankful. There will come a day when we will only know the perfect, righteous reign and rule of God. Until that day, we should, as believers in Christ, be strong advocates for justice. But we should also remember that on earth on a human level, perfect justice will always be elusive. Like our individual souls, there is a hole in our human system of justice. And, as a pointed out in a recent sermon, the hole in the whole system can serve two main purposes. The first is that the empty space reveals the lack of completeness and perfection we experience right now. The second is this: that same empty space allows God’s perfect justice to shine through.