I was meditating on Romans 5:1: I have been justified through faith…and specifically on one word: “justified”. I was taught thirty-five years ago by a Sunday school teacher, who was a retired missionary, that it meant as just as if I hadn’t sinned. I’m unsure about that meaning any more in view of restorative justice.
That meaning implies that I would be freed from God’s punishment just as if I haven’t sinned. In the context of restorative justice, however, being justified means I have been transformed to restore peace–shalom–with God, within myself, and with my sphere of influence. As a result, restorative justice runs through my thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds. I have been justified through faith not because I’m spared of God’s punishments but because I have been restored to do justice—restorative justice.
That means making things right in terms of compassion, love, and peace becomes my calling. Being justified is not some kind of “imputed righteousness” so that I’m spared of God’s divine punishment that many preachers have taught. Instead, being justified means God’s Spirit grants me healing from sinful and selfish pursuits and imputes me with his power to bring restoration to relationships with God, myself, and the world around me. And this is the good news that Jesus calls me to be a witness for.