By Nestor Osman, Washington Conference Youth, Club Ministries, & Summer Camp director

One goal for professionals in youth ministry is to understand new generations and the main differences from former generations.

These differences have multiple aspects and approaches; religious culture and theology are among them. Historically, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was characterized as the "People of the Book" due to diligent efforts to dig deeper into the well of wisdom that the Bible represents. At some point, these efforts led some leaders to over-emphasize the weight of God's law above the importance of grace, becoming a part of our culture.

Were they right?

The Bible talks about justice, and calling sin by its name is a must. However, grace is as important as justice and needs to be part of the equation of the Christian experience. We can observe in history that, sometimes, new generations react against cultural aspects from previous generations. This time, it seems that the pendulum moved away from the emphasis on justice into the emphasis of grace. New philosophies seem to present a moral compass without a common north, where individuals get to decide what is right and wrong, resigning to the much-wanted (social) justice in the process.

Jesus indeed accepts us all as we are, and there is nothing we can do for Him to make Him love us more or less.

However, we can fall into the trap of putting a period in this statement where there is a comma. Jesus's statement of His mission was simple and clear.

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners, to repentance.

We need Jesus. I need Jesus. You need Jesus because we need a Savior. Sin is real and deadly and is the one thing that can prevent us from loving God as He deserves. The book of Romans presents Paul's study on the topic, concluding that

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Then how do we combine justice and grace?

The answer is simple but not easy: unselfish love. Think of a mother or father teaching their little children what is right and what is wrong. Let's use "eating a rock" as an example. Justice will warn, "Do not eat rocks." If that child eats a rock, pure justice will say, "You are experiencing the consequences of your decisions," letting the kid suffer. Grace will say, "No matter what you do, I'll forgive you," and that kid will eat a rock. Then pure grace will assist them in visiting the ER over and over again without stopping this child from eating more rocks.

Like a father or mother who loves their children, God will combine justice and grace every day.

We are supposed to be dead due to sin, however, we are alive by grace. God already proved His love at the cross and earned the right to warn us over and over with His law of love, letting us decide what to do. As a Father, He will let us experience lessons in life, sometimes painfully, sharing those moments with us. At the end of the day, His grace is enough but not cheap, as Jesus died for it, and both grace and justice are part of the same hug that we all will receive from Jesus in person very soon.