Tuesday, March 27, 2007

You be the Judge

Our jury pool was sitting in the courtroom. There were lots of questions that the prosecution and defense attorney asked of us. The judge had a question for us as the questioning came to a close. She asked us if we were uncomfortable with sitting on a jury that would have to decide on whether the defendant was guilty or if there was reasonable doubt then we would have to say that the defendant was not guilty. We were being asked to sit in judgment of another human being.

The trial itself was very interesting. Testimony was given by several witnesses. It was easy to spot the strategy of each “side.” Some witnesses were very believable; others hurt their side’s “cause.” It wasn’t until the testimony phase of the trial was coming to a close that it hit me—our decision as a jury could set this person free or send him to jail. At that point the jury process became very real. We were sitting in the seat of judgment.

Being in the seat of judgment gave me a glimpse into God the Father—Yahweh. My respect and admiration of God was greatly increased as the trial came to a close.

Laws: The State of Washington has a set of laws to govern our society. Some laws seem pretty stupid. Until recently we lived out in the country. The speed limit on the road in front of our small subdivision was 35 mph. I could drive up into the city and find much busier roads with higher speed limits. It made no sense. On the other hand, there are laws that do make sense—like inappropriately touching a child on their private parts. As a juror we were to apply the law whether we agreed with the law or not. God has established a set of laws. Those laws were to be kept—period. Breaking a law was (and is) considered “sin.” It was sin to break the law regarding mildew; it was a sin to break the law regarding adultery.

Actions: Individuals are faced with decisions regarding the laws of the State of Washington. Yesterday I saw five drivers choose to ignore the law requiring drivers to stop for a red light. The drivers blatantly ignored the red lights. Several times I had to quickly stop for red lights—each time I looked in the mirror to make sure that I wasn’t going to get rear-ended for stopping at the light! We are faced with decisions—obey the law or disobey the law. Every day we are also faced with making decisions about obeying God’s law. Most of those decisions are very easy to make—others are more difficult. I have never been tempted to murder a person. Yet, it is difficult to not envy the person with a fabulous sailboat! Sin!

Consequences: There are consequences for breaking the laws of Washington State—our actions have consequences. We have all heard the saying, “If you can’t do the time then don’t do the crime.” This saying has a certain ring of truth. People are always trying to find a way to justify their actions that involve breaking the law. Just this morning I heard an excellent example of that fact. One of the people who comes to The Oasis (my office away from the office) is a retired police officer. He still works for the department even though he is retired. He task is to ticket cars that illegally park in handicapped parking spaces. Today, he was sitting in the Starbucks parking lot in his patrol car. A car pulled into the handicapped parking space—a lady jumped out of the car and ran into Starbucks. There was no “handicapped” parking sticker on her car. The officer got out and began writing the ticket. The woman came out of Starbucks (latte in hand) and told him that she had parked there because she was only going to be in Starbucks for a few minutes! He told her that for the price of that ticket she could have sat in Starbucks and drank lattes all day. She openly chose to ignore the law—there were consequences for her actions. There are consequences for breaking God’s laws! Those consequences may not be as apparent as a ticket on the windshield of our car. Those consequences have an impact that will eventually affect every aspect of our lives—in this life and in eternity.

Sitting in the jury room I came to the realization that our decision was not going to decide the defendant’s future—it was the defendant’s actions that were going to decide his future! Additionally, we must realize that it is our actions that determine our guilt and innocence before God regarding his laws.

As a juror there were several things that I wanted/or didn’t want to do:

  • I wanted the little girl to recapture her lost innocence and childhood;
  • I wanted to “make things right” in the totally dysfunctional family;
  • I didn’t want a dad to have to go to jail;
  • I didn’t want the dad to struggle with drugs and alcohol;
  • I didn’t want the two girls growing up fearing their dad—hating their dad (only one of the girls had been abused);
  • I didn’t want to have to pass judgment.

Then it struck me. God doesn’t “want to” pass judgment on us—on me! It is our actions that pass judgment on us. It is our actions that find us guilty. It breaks God’s heart to see us break his laws. It grieves God to know that there will be those who are apart from him for all eternity. We must remember that God isn’t “doing it to us”—we are “doing it to ourselves.”

My jury experience allowed me to see the father’s heart breaking due to our actions—my actions! He doesn’t want any of us to be apart from him! He desperately longs for us to know him and love him. Yet, he honors our decisions and the consequences that come from those decisions.

Most Christians long for the return of Christ. Now, for the first time I truly understand why God is delaying Christ’s return as long as possible. Laws. Actions. Consequences. New life in Christ!

2 Comments:

At 11:04 AM , Blogger Red_Cleric said...

Thanks, I've sat on a jury and didn't see it with the depth you did. I appreciate the insight.

Alan

 
At 7:22 PM , Blogger Presbyterian Gal said...

Thanks from me as well. I was on jury selection for a similar case, but was stipulated out because of my personal history.

Your insight is edifying.

 

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