As the story of the Boston marathon bombings unfolds, I am continually surprised at some of the 'Christian' responses I have seen published on Facebook and other formats. This is not a running commentary of right, wrong or indifferent but a commentary on being the judge. What I have heard a lot of from Christians that I know, even some I respect has been a guttural reaction to a want and desire for justice to be served and quickly. "Find um and kill em!" It is a desire for retribution. And I was reminded that there is a case for retribution offered in Scripture. It comes in the book of Job.
Rather than offer up a reading of the 42 chapters of Job, here is a quick synopsis. God and Satan (the adversary) are discussing things in the heavenly courts. Satan suggests people love God for what God provides for their lives; food shelter, livelihood etc. God tells of his most faithful servant Job - a man of complete integrity. God allows Satan to take away all of the things in Job's life testing his physical health, taking away his family and belongings and making him wish he had never been born. So, in mourning, Job tears his clothes shaves his head and sits on the city dump in complete sadness for his life. Job's 'friends' come to comfort him. They insist that he has done something wrong to deserve this punishment from God. Job maintains his innocence. The book intertwines the conversations between Job, his friends and God from there.
The case for retribution is not just insisting that punishment like the removal of stuff and health is in the best interest for God operates divine justice but Job's friends case for retribution is to take on God's role of judge. And that is the problem with retribution or vigilante justice; it is the sin that caused us to get kicked out of Eden. We all want to be God, judge jury and executioner. This is the desire for those who insist on justice that rings of retribution...we want to be God. God's justice is a bit different though. And while I'm not insisting that justice not be served to those who brought death and harm and acts of terror to the city of Boston. I do think that we stop insisting on retribution. This is not a Christian ideal. And part of our Christian identity is to be moved beyond our own selfish desires and sinful ways. In the end, God is judge and that should be a welcome promise to us