Why justice is like a cup of tea

Reflections

“When we talk about God as judge, we are imagining God as the one who sees the brokenness and helps to restore it to wholeness, rather than the one who punishes those who have done the wrong thing,” says The Rev’d Andrew Schmidt, Priest-in-Charge of Good Shepherd Anglican church, Bundaberg West

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As an Anglican priest, you can find yourself in some interesting places.

Weekly, I find myself as a volunteer teaching a group of young people during their religious instruction class.

I like to offer the kids a chance to ask any questions they might have, and at this stage I would say that one of the best parts about teaching religious instruction is that you learn to think on your feet about what’s really important.

Recently the idea of justice came up.

I wanted to try and help them understand justice, and explore the types of justice.

Young people have an intuitive sense of justice as being about making things fair, or returning the situation to fair, so that part was easy.

More importantly, I wanted to introduce them to restitutive and retributive justice as ideas. The best I could come up with on the spot was an analogy. I suggested imagining you broke your mother’s teacup.

Retributive justice is if your mother or father then takes your teacup and breaks it.

Certainly it is now even, but wouldn’t it be better if instead you saved your pocket money and went and bought your mother a new teacup.

You have now acted to restore to fair, and ended the cycle of destruction.

The reason it’s important for me to help them understand restitutive justice is that it gives a better picture of the way justice is presented in the kingdom of God.

When we talk about God as judge we are imagining God as the one who sees the brokenness and helps to restore it to wholeness rather than the one who punishes those who have done the wrong thing.

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