One time during the off season, an umpire in a softball league in Colorado got stopped by a cop for speeding. He pleaded for mercy, explained that he was a very good driver, and told why he had to be in a hurry. The officer wasn’t buying the umpire’s argument. “Tell it to the judge,” he said.

When softball season rolled around, the umpire was umpiring his first game. The first batter to come up happened to be the cop who ticketed him for speeding. They recognized each other. It was awkward for the officer.

“So, how did the thing with the ticket go?” the officer asked.

“Better swing at everything,” the umpire replied.

We have a desire for justice, not just for things to work out the way we want them. We all are umpires. We can’t help it. Aristotle called this ability phronesis, the capacity to see moral, relevant features of a particular case and make good judgments. And this capacity is tied to the way things ought to be. We have a conviction that for life to make sense, for existence to be rational, justice must prevail. Therefore, people who fight for justice are not being arbitrary; they are working for the way things are supposed to be.

Our demand for justice tells us that there must be a Judge, that justice must one day prevail. And the greatest voices of justice who ever lived, the Hebrew prophets who called their nation to justice as no nation had ever been called before, insisted that one day justice will prevail. It will roll on like a river (Amos 5:24). Our thirst for justice tells us there is a God. But it is not the most convincing voice I hear about God.

John Ortberg, Know Doubt: Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014).

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