Monday, October 16, 2006

Man's Justice - God's Justice

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! (Psalm 37:1)
Last night I watched Sudden Impact (I think that’s the name of it), another part of the Dirty Harry series.

It would be understandable if there were some who did not think this film was as good as the others in the series, I can appreciate that. The film did open up however some interesting moral issues concerning the nature of justice. I guess that’s the whole point of the series to promote the right-wing version of justice that cuts through the crap … errr … I mean the unnecessary lily-livered liberal media manipulated bureaucracy and deals with situations as they deserve to be dealt with – tough justice if you will. I am concerned however with the message that it gives out which is essentially if the socially agreed constructs of justice are inadequate for whatever reason you the individual are entitled to deal with matters yourself.

So the scenario is built in a sympathetic manner. A lady tormented by a brutal gang-raping that also sent her sister into a mental vegetative state wreaks vengeance on those involved in the crime. Harry Callahan, whilst creating chaos wherever he goes, is assigned the case and becomes embroiled in a small-town situation where justice is a family affair as the chief of police’s son was also involved the scene. As it transpires most of those involved in the rape are despicable characters and thus we the audience are lead to believe they are deserving of their fate. There is one character who has endeavoured to reform his ways and become a respectable member of society, he is not spared the bullets. When it comes to killing the chief of police’s son, the lady is stopped by two things, first the fact that the son is also in a vegetative state as his guilt lead him to ram his car off the road in a bid to kill himself. Sadly the chief of police doesn’t last long as the real nasty piece of work – the final member of the gang – pops up with a few of his crew and kills the chief. Harry pops up at this point, having pieced the case together via sleeping with the lady, and saves the day with his .44 Magnum automag. When the police come to clear up the debris Harry covers the indiscretions of the woman after the offending weapon is found on the nasty piece of work.

So the point is ‘we understand why you killed those people because of your physical, emotional and mental torment by their hands, so it’s only fair at the end of the movie that you are redeemed by the man of the law’. I cannot really live with that because it still promotes a vigilante approach to justice where the legal methods mean little in as much as they serve the individual’s concept of justice. Imagine if that was worked out in society at large, order as we know it would go to pieces! People would literally be killing, maiming, manipulating, torturing and tormenting others as the whim took them if they felt an injustice had been committed. As we look at people’s attitude to the criminal justice system and the state of prisons that sentiment would be exacerbated to render the whole law and order structure irrelevant and two minutes later anarchy would rule the roost.

Alternatively if the system is to be enforced it has to be respected and submitted to even in situations where it may not appear as true justice as been done. When that happens, those without Christ have no recourse and that feeling of injustice can quickly lead to bitterness at the system. Believers do have the reassurance that at the end of the day God has the last word and a scripture that’s really helpful in this regard is Psalm 37. Now when I say at the end of the day I’m not just talking about at the end of time, I do believe that in this life true vengeance can be delivered even if we never see it. The Psalm helps us to get a better perspective on our response and attitude to injustice – living justly, living right and looking and depending on the God who does right and even expressed that rightness in offering His Son as a sacrifice because that was the only way justice could be met. Someone had to pay for every sin ever committed – Someone pure, Someone without guilt – that was satisfied in Christ. As a result believers can commit all things to God and live right even in a wrong world.

On a lighter note, if such a thing could be garnered from such a bloodthirsty film, there were some real doozy one-liners. The first was when Harry interrupts a coffee-shop robbery and as ever shoots first and asks questions later. Before he conducts his official duties, he informs the robbers that ‘we’ cannot allow that to happen. Noticing only one person, one of the robbers asks who is the ‘we’, after which Harry produces his gun and states ‘Smith and Wesson and me’. (For the uninitiated Smith & Wesson is the name of a make of gun and presumably the surname of two men intrinsically linked with the creation of the company.)

Most of the great one-liners took place in the first half of the film – they over-egged the ‘make my day’ line, though. One I had to remember though, is when Harry is in a dressing down by his boss in a conference meeting and when the boss, Briggs by name, feels Harry’s not taking him serious he gets all pompous and says ‘You know who you're talkin' to? Hmm? You know my record?’ to which Harry replies, ‘Yeah, you’re a legend in your own mind’. That was brilliant. It was the perfect put-down. On wider consideration it’s a most appropriate response to others who in their pomp and pride declare themselves to be someone, when they’re actually no one. Reminding me of the important principle Paul outlines in Galatians 6:3 - For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thank God For ... My Brother

Winner of the Friend of the Year 2005 my brother is undoubtedly one of the most gifted people I’ve ever met in my life. And that is not just a statement made out of filial affiliation but an honest assessment of his capabilities. If my admiration for him was just based on his creative abilities there’d be a lot to admire. He’s a gifted musician able of playing skilfully on the guitar (any – bass, acoustic, electric probably even a banjo), keyboard/piano, drums, violin, recorder, harmonica and of course most importantly the tambourine (no one qualifies as a multi-instrumentalist unless you can play on the tambourine).

He is also a great vocalist with a keen ear for harmonies able to express emotion ranging from joy and exultation to despair and confusion with a melodic and harmonic support that reinforces the mood with such feeling he is more than aptly named David. (Biblical reference to the main songsmith in the Bible to the uninitiated.) Just to make matters that much more astounding, this hombre is a special songwriter. One of my main moans of being in the church I’m in is the lack of NEW SONGS to the Lord, but this brother doesn’t have a problem in that regard. If he were to quit now he’d already have a healthy catalogue of over 150 songs most of which highlights the
ups and downs of his relationship with the Almighty. These aren’t cheap pop-tunes about boy-meets-girl-then-raps about what he’ll do to her before moving onto his next conquest. These are a collection of the turmoil and aspirations of a man on a quest to know his Creator. The thing about these songs as well is that these are heart-driven and honestly expressed – there be no prettying up of the issues in these songs.

So he’s the musician extraordinaire, but as if that’s not enough his scholarly feats are substantial. Just check his site out – the brother doesn’t do anything but deep in a major way and it’s thoroughly, methodically researched and considered before being published – all because of his passion to know his Creator. To highlight how deep he gets there’s some stuff he comes up that even I have to scratch my head and just say – wow. The guy knows his Hebrew and Greek better than some people in this country know their English.

He’s an able sportsman, back in the day he’d master most of the sports he took up, especially football which is why I’d love for him to come up here and live with me so I can bask in his talent on Thursday Afternoon Football. He is then gifted in many areas and I could go on about his intelligence and his oratory skills – greatly underappreciated.

If that was all there was to my brother it would be alright. Yet what is the really outstanding quality of my brother is his character. He may well have his obstinate and stubborn moments, but he’s not a boaster or a proud man. He goes out of his way to maintain a humility before the Lord and an awareness of his frailties and utter dependence on the Almighty just to continue living.
He looks out for his family both immediate in terms of his wife and extended in terms of his parents and siblings. He is sacrificial to a fault not having any difficulty in giving when there’s a need. He’s a patient and attentive listener able to communicate appropriately and in a timely way. It is more than evident to me that he has inherited his father’s humility and meekness and it marks him out to me as a man worthy of great respect. He remains one of the few men on this planet that I could trust implicitly and I know that to the very best of his ability he would not let me down. No he is not perfect – he should be more assertive in his life-direction, he does need to be more assertive in making the most of his abilities, his at times tortured spiritual journey isn’t always beneficial to his relationships. The awareness of that however makes it all the more appealing in terms of having him as a friend and brother.

More than ever I’m grateful for his friendship, I’m thankful for his counsel, I’m inspired by his commitment to the Creator and I’m awed at his humility. He is a man of the Almighty and that’s a good thing to have. My friend, my brother I thank God for him.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Random Thoughts

I got an e-mail recently saying that if they could have anything in the world they would want world peace and an end to poverty. Question is, could we ever get that without wisdom? Even if a huge wand waved across the world and eliminated all poverty how long would that last for? For what is poverty but the result of man’s inhumanity to man through his imperialistic overbearing desire to dominate and be superior to another man as driven by his greed? Same thing with world peace – if you really want world peace, whatever that looks like – you need to have a mind that can fit it and that starts at the communal level before ever reaching the global.

The reality is the very nature of man necessitates that there will never be a time on this planet when there is true world peace until the return of Jesus Christ. We might as well get used to it. What we are called to do is to express this Jesus-rule now by living in peace and fulfilling the call to be peacemakers, but that is not in the hope that one day the world will be at peace this side of the Return. It’s done in obedience to God with the vision of how His rule ushers in peace in our soul before peace outside.

I am not a rebel by nature. I think, like my parents, I am naturally conservative. I accept that. However within that conservatism there is a great deal of fundamentalism in there. That is to say I am comfortable conserving the fundamental tents of faith in Jesus Christ. As a result I seem to find that this marks me out as kind of different to my peer group both in the CoG7 circles and within Christendom at large. I am heavily influenced by American writing and thought, but I’m not obsessed by them. I am heavily influenced by the Reformed strand of thinking at the moment only because it reinforces my drive for Word-based teaching as opposed to consumer teaching or playing to itching ears.

I don’t want to compromise God’s standards anymore and I’m not happy to live a life that accepts mediocrity. I want to be everything God has called me to be starting and ending with humble in the presence of His Holiness. I want to disciple others in this way and get them following Jesus in a radical way likewise. Nothing else will satisfy me other than to satisfy Him.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Monday, October 02, 2006

More To Life Than This

But he answered, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

An organisation based on Christian principles accepts one of the very first things Jesus is recorded to have said. There is more to life than what we consider to be the essentials. When we talk about need – what we really need, it’s fair to say it could be reduced to four things – relationship, oxygen, food and clothing. Beyond that everything else is luxury! What’s highlighted by the model of Christianity – Jesus – is that even when it seems like we’re desperate for the physical – as in something to eat – there is something even more important than that. What life is really all about is relationship – but the key is the relationship with the One who created and sustains us. The One who provides the bread, clothing and oxygen also offers life through a relationship with Him. In relationship with Him we can discover that there’s more to life than what we see that enriches life with what we see. There’s more to life than physical needs – life itself is enjoyed by satisfying something a lot deeper than the physical. What’s also identified here is that self-sufficiency does not allow life to the full. Acknowledging the need for a relationship with the Almighty is the key to really living.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd