The title to his story is JUSTICE REALLY DOES NARROW AND DIE AT THE BAPTIST CHURCH
Mesquite trees, rock—lots of rocks—scattered clumps of oil pump head, rough terrain, solitary cattle and the interstate were canopied by the huge sky. If one can tune into that kind of West Texas collage, beauty is there. I love it; I grew up there.
The sign stood proudly beside the interstate alerting passersby that Justiceburg was only 6 miles farther down the road.
Justiceburg. The town of justice. The place where justice lives. The town named after justice. Historically, it would mean the city or town fortified for justice, or by justice. What a name for a West Texas town. Guns blazing to establish justice in this wilderness region. Judges triumphant over the outlaws. The next six miles my imagination out ran reality.
Justiceburg 1 mile. As we rounded the curve into Justiceburg, a huge sign, even in Texas terms: “Warning! Road narrows.”
One became so involved in avoiding cars and 18 wheelers fast merging across the single bridge spanning the dry gulch that Justiceburg proper could easily be missed.
A few buildings with snaggletooth windows. Driveways overgrown by hoary Johnson grass and weeds.
Folks migrated from Justiceburg to the convenience of larger towns, such as Post. Or, rancher drove better pickup trucks a little farther to town to do business.
But in Downtown Justiceburg, it was different. The Justiceburg Baptist Church stood amidst at least two acres of neatly cut and cared for green grass. A nice, freshly-painted silver fence fashioned from oil field pipe kept cars from trespassing on the green make of distinction. Anyone who has ever tried to grow and keep a lawn green during the summer in that environment knows immediately, someone cared. The tan brick structure stood ready for activity at the ring of a steeple bell. The church outlived its town; FAITH RUNS DEEPER THAN CUSTOMER LOYALTY.
Next to the church, in less cared for surroundings, was an ancient, large, general store-type building, its boards turned black from decades of harsh, unrepentant weather. Except for the very front. The Front—-but only the very front—glowed with Post Office red and blue. (One thought of a movie set.) On its porch sat a matching mail collection box, and one knew only the very front of the building’s space found useful purpose: the rest had been abandoned along with the rest of Justiceburg.
The scene was over before it began. The interstate widened again and everyone quickly regained traveling speed. But I kept thinking about the scene.
“Justice narrows and dies at the Baptist Church.” And in fact, that’s not a bad thing to happen. DIVINE JUSTICE does narrow at the church. No one can escape responsibility for one’s actions. PERIOD. The path of life is inescapably NARROW at that point.
But in Christ, JUSTICE DIES. We are not treated according to our merits, unless we demand that, in which case we lose—the wages of sin is death. In Christ, we are dealt with according to his grace—but the gift of God is eternal life. JUSTICE NARROWS AND DIES AT THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
I would like to tell those hardy souls of the Justiceburg Baptist Church that the testimony of their building, standing amidst that green grass on those parched plains , is an eloquent testimony to those who fly by on the interstate, and notice that not everything is dead in Justiceburg; GOD STILL LIVES THERE, AND HIS PEOPE STILL CARE.
Most people don’t seem to want to live there, but I think it would be a great place to WORSHIP!