Divine Love: where mercy meets justice

A Christian Science perspective: Mercy and justice work together.

The human heart longs to find ways to right wrongs of corruption and injustices of all kinds. The Christian Science Monitor editorial “Mercy for the corrupt who come clean?” points to the challenge of balancing justice and mercy even when there is the willingness to be more transparent.

It would seem that justice and mercy are often at odds, but the Bible reveals that they have their source in God and work together for good. Justice comes from Principle and Truth, which are synonyms for God indicated in the Bible, while mercy originates from God as Love (see I John 4:8). The Bible speaks of justice and love, which include God’s abundant mercy, laying the foundation for God’s law of good: “Equity and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loyal love and faithfulness characterize your rule” (Psalms 89:14, New English Translation).

God’s throne and rule that the Psalmist spoke of point to the kingdom of God that Christ Jesus said is “at hand” and “within you” (Matthew 4:17 and Luke 17:21, respectively). With his deep spiritual understanding of this kingdom, Jesus expressed a justice that didn’t sanction any act underived from God, good. And he expressed mercy in compassionately lifting individual lives above wrongdoing to a higher understanding of God’s unchangeable love for them. He healed them of sin and sickness.

Divine justice, as a vital and irresistible force for good, rebukes and corrects wrongdoing where needed, while mercy is shown in the freedom and goodwill this brings – lifting individuals out of wrongdoing and the suffering it brings. And these qualities that come from God are reflected by spiritual man – each one of us – because, as the Bible says and Christian Science elucidates, we are the image and likeness of God, Love (see Genesis 1:26, 27). This truth of our existence means we naturally know the rightness of good. It gives us the ability to see and correct wrongdoing while expressing God’s love with its infinite capacity of mercy.

My study of Christian Science has deepened my grasp of God’s kingdom and how praying to understand this kingdom can have a healing influence in the world – bringing a balance of justice and mercy to human affairs. True justice is merciful. At the same time that it uncovers and denounces evil, and shows that it has no power to govern man as God’s creation, it turns the wrongdoer to Love’s mercy. Mercy that is just shines the light on how to do right by revealing the good and pure spiritual identity we all have – our one real identity. These qualities cooperate to correct wrongdoing and its effects.

The discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of this publication, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love – the kingdom of heaven – reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 248).

Many years ago, a friend told me she wanted to take a break from our friendship. As this “break” turned into months without speaking, it felt very unjust to me. One day, it dawned on me to forgive my friend. As I prayed, I saw that my friend actually owed me nothing, because divine Love alone, and not a person, was the source of all good for both of us. Only Love’s law was governing us and embracing each of us individually in its harmonious wholeness. I saw how just and merciful was God’s law, the understanding of which destroyed my unjust resentment toward my friend and mercifully freed me from its ensuing distress. This enabled me to love my friend compassionately regardless of the human circumstance. Soon after that, my friend apologized, and with an open heart I easily accepted the apology.

This experience and many others have strengthened my confidence that there is no conflict between justice and mercy. Wherever redresses are needed, we can pray to see justice and mercy working together to bring Love’s rendering of what is due – regeneration, reconciliation, and the righting of all wrongs.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.