BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day
© John Denney 8 September 2004
A few months ago, I was called for Jury Service.† Apart from an awful lot of sitting around doing nothing, I sat on one jury to hear a case.† The trial proceeded along the lines that have evolved over 800 years of English history.† The defence barrister sat near to the jury, and took every opportunity to curry our favour by nods and winks and raised eyebrows as events unfolded.† The witnesses were examined and cross-examined, and we were sent out to consider whether the accused was guilty or innocent.† The jury was impressive.† Everyone had their say, whether they were a university lecturer, a builderís labourer, a schoolgirl, a taxi driver, a housewife or whatever occupation was followed by the jury members.† And we picked holes in the evidence and dissected the prosecution and defence cases, and after four or five hours, we came to our verdict.† And when weíd delivered it, the accusedís long history of previous offences was read out, and it was clear that the accused would be spending a very long time in prison.† Justice had been done.† And it was very satisfactory to play my tiny part in the machinery of law.
Sometimes, though, justice doesnít seem to be done.† Terrorists who murder and maim and then kill themselves seem to escape justice.† Even their death is not enough retribution.† Sometimes, people who are clearly guilty get off because of a technicality.† And sometimes, the police know who did it, but canít get enough evidence together to prove the case to the satisfaction of a jury.
One of Godís characteristics is that He is Just.† The Bible says that one day, we will all be called to account for our actions.† Justice Ė Godís justice Ė will be done.† And thatís a bit scary.† Because Iím not perfect, any more than you are perfect.† Iíve not always lived up to my own standards, let alone Godís standards.† So the Day of Judgement is definitely scary.† Or, it would be: because one of Godís other characteristics is that He is a God of Mercy.† Forgiveness is in his nature.† Thatís why He sent His Son Jesus to take the blame for my wrongdoing, and yours.
And in return, God wants us to forgive.† Remember those words in the Lordís Prayer?† Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.† But notice the order of things: weíve got to be forgiving people before God forgives us.