Grace Vs. Justice

From the April/May Eagle Eye Print Edition.

We tend to see grace and justice as opposing concepts, each giving a different view to the same situation, like two different kinds of lenses.

Justice is the objective lens, shaped by a concrete set of rules that determine what you deserve based on values. Grace, on the other hand, is the subjective lens, yielding results that aren’t as predictable. It acts as the exact opposite of justice as grace is essentially getting what you don’t deserve. There are many sound arguments as to why justice is the easier view to take in. Seeing villains in movies get what they deserve is particularly satisfying because of the usually clear distinction between the bad guys and the good. But the moment we are faced with our own mistakes or poor choices, there’s no doubt that our righteous views would shift even just a little.

The thing is, if there was no such thing as grace, the world would be an uninhabitable place. Every single human being is prone to doing wrong. It’s in our nature. From a Christian perspective, we haven’t even received anything close to what we really deserve. Romans 6:23 explicitly states that the wages of our sin is death. When we sin, we inevitably deserve death. Yet a serial killer would probably deserve death more than I do, right? Not exactly. After all, sin is sin. But if two people are convicted of the same crime and one sincerely repents while the other remains remorseless, it’s easy for us to want to extend mercy and grace to just the repentant person. The thing is, the repentant person would still deserve the same consequence as the other criminal.

[one_third]We need to find a balance and decipher what is appropriate and applicable at which time. [/one_third]

We hear about grace time and time again in Bible classes, chapels, worship songs, and of course, Scripture itself. We believe in a God who is the complete essence of love and passion, not rules and prejudice as it is sometimes portrayed. We are instructed to live as Christ lived and to ultimately extend the love and grace we have received from Him to others. If we’re trying to lead a Godly life but are mercilessly shooting down anyone who makes mistakes, there’s nothing Christ-like about that.

At the same time, however, if we allow ourselves to condone every wrongdoing, we are not making much of an impact in this world either. We need to find a balance and decipher what is appropriate and applicable at which time. Showing grace, especially when the mission of our school is to honor God, is an appropriate response in certain cases, but it’s also very risky and will not always be responded to graciously. That’s the whole point of grace, though. It doesn’t matter if people don’t acknowledge it or appreciate it; God gives us grace, anyway. He is love and loves us even when we are too absorbed in ourselves and the world around us. Period.

The recent policy change in the handbook has broadened the spectrum of consequences when it comes to zero tolerance violations. This change understandably brought controversy to our school as it was made after an incident warranting automatic dismissals. Is the policy change appropriate? That is a question without a definitive answer, as it depends on numerous factors and beliefs. Is the attitude of discrediting the authority of our administration for this change an appropriate response? At least in a respectful sense, I think not. Disagreement is a perfectly fine response as is having opinions and voicing them. But allowing yourself to disrespect the administration and disregard their authority shows no maturity nor does it help anything.

Anyone who was involved in making a decision in the recent change in policy has to have thought a lot farther into both sides of justice and grace than those of us observing from the outside. Any choice would have solicited disagreement, so it would be naive to say that there is an obvious solution. After all, rules are like a skeleton, and as with all bodies, there also needs to be a heart, which, in this case, is grace.

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