When we are wronged, we can easily feel tempted to retaliate, defend ourselves and seek revenge. But Paul says there is a better way. In the penultimate talk of our series, I consider how and why we should resist vengeance, and what it means to trust in the justice of God.
For more on this theme, check out:
- Rachael Denhollander – Justice: The Foundation of a Christian Approach to Abuse (Article)
- Fleming Rutledge – The Crucifixion (Book)
- The Bible Project, episodes 216-221 (Podcasts)
- Esau McCaulley – Reading While Black (Book) – I didn’t cite this in the final sermon, but it is hugely helpful on how God breaks the cycle of vengeance at the cross, and how we can and must stand up against injustice in a healthy way.
Whilst not explicitly related to this theme, I also quoted and would highly recommend:
Audio: Listen or download
Here is a small-group practice to help you reflect on and pray through the themes of this talk:
Towards the end of Romans 12, Paul considers how we should respond when people seek to do us harm, and he describes two responses: how God responds, and how we are to respond. In this talk, Liam looked at verses 17-21 and considered how God responds to evil, and next week Joel will look at our response.
We saw that the wrath of God is not wild and unrestrained, but measured, and directed towards the eradication of evil for the purpose of establishing justice. Whilst many of us find the idea of a God who gets angry difficult, Liam argued that we actually need a God who gets angry at injustice, since a God who did not get angry at injustice would not be truly loving! We see His commitment to love and justice most clearly at the cross. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we should have confidence and hope that God will eventually deal with all injustice and make this world new.
We often assume that the God of the Bible (and the Old Testament in particular) is an inherently angry God, but we saw that Scripture describes Him as being slow to anger, or ‘long of nostrils.’ How do you most easily think of God? Angry, or slow to anger? And what is it that shapes your view of Him most?
- When you experience injustice or evil, are you tempted to respond like for like? How easy do you find it to step back and leave room for God to fight on your behalf?
- Liam made the point that this passage isn’t telling us to be passive in the face of evil or injustice, we can and we must stand up against injustice! Next week we will unpack that idea further. But what questions do v17-21 raise for you about our response? And where do you need help from God to trust Him this week?
- You may want to check out some of the prayer resources and liturgies we have created at christchurchlondon.org/prayer and read more about them here
Having discussed some areas where you need help to trust God this week, spend some time praying for one another. If you find it hard to know where to start, why not try reading and praying our Prayer Against Injustice.