It took me a few seconds to recognize his seizure, two seats away. It took a few more to remember what to do, and by the time I had the wherewithal to “spring into action!” three others already had. Moments before, we’d all been 3 minutes from the end of our Hebrew quiz; now all 60 students were silently staring at our corner of the room. A sense of shame slowly settled into my spirit; why am I such a terrible first responder? After Campus Safety, and eventually the paramedics, came, our class was dismissed early and we stumbled out into the mid-morning sunshine.
Wandering toward the library, I approached a few other students and mentioned how awkward I feel in medical crises, fishing for an “It’s ok.” They offered something of the sort, but I still related it to Annie and another classmate, looking for more justification.
If you’ve spent much time observing amateur musicians, in a school orchestra or leading worship in church, you’ve probably experienced a similar phenomenon. When our voices crack, we give exaggerate our smiles and look for a friendly eye (or away entirely, if we don’t think there will be any), wanting to be assured, “It’s ok!” Even standing in the congregation, we start a verse early, singing half a word into the lull, and can’t quite move on without acknowledging it to our neighbors. We long to be justified. We’re looking for someone to tell us we don’t have to feel bad anymore.
Who will tell us that we are, from the bottoms of our feet to the tops of our heads, from infancy to our furthest future, from our loudest laughs to our deepest tears, “ok”? Who can? Perhaps on Tuesday, that student can forgive me for not rushing to his aid. Surely our pew-mates can let us off the hook for messing up our lines. But will we ever meet the poor who we have overlooked? Who can pardon us for pillaging our planet? Who has the authority to absolve us for our pride?
Only the God of the world can truly call us justified for all we have done in this world.
1. If you believe that God has extended this justification to you in Christ, then rest assured–rest, assured–that it is there for the taking. From silly embarrassment to deep shame, God has already redeemed us from out guilt and has a plan for restoring us to his design. While we do need to reconcile with others, we don’t have to look to them for our ultimate justification.
2. If you believe that God has extended this justification to you in Christ, then tell others about it!
3. Recognize that other are looking for justification. They’re looking to be valued and accepted. They’re not always interested in spiritual realities, but most people are ready for a good friend. At the very least, listen and encourage. Build a relationship across which your hope in Christ can flow.
Deep down, we’re all seeking justification.