Jury Duty and the Kingdom of God

[From the archives.]

***

Last Tuesday, the President – in reference to an anti-Islamic video produced in the United States – told the United Nations General Assembly:

… the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that.

He recognizes that “not all countries … share this particular understanding …”? Now there’s an understatement. He could have added that not everyone in America shares it either. It’s not the understatement that struck me though. It’s how much the President’s comment reminds me of something Paul said a couple thousand years ago.

 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14.)

Parallel Realms

I am a citizen of the United States by birth, and belong to the kingdom of God by rebirth. A lot of the things I take for granted here in the States not only don’t exist abroad, they’re not even valued. A lot of the blessings I receive in God’s kingdom are likewise not valued by those outside the kingdom. The reasons are similar in some ways.

People come to my courthouse for jury duty all the time, and occasionally I am privileged to speak to them about jury service. One thing I point out is that not many countries have a jury system, and that the governments in those other countries never call on regular folks to make a judicial decision. Yet here we do that, twelve people making the decision that becomes an enforceable order of the judicial branch.

Then I point out that in some countries the people not only don’t get to do this but they cannot even conceive of it. Many people live in countries where the government doesn’t ask the people what it should do; the government tells the people what they have to do. If we tried to explain the jury system to a person on the street in one of those places, some of them wouldn’t even be able to wrap their minds around it. Here in the States, though, we get the basic concept even if we’ve never been on jury duty; we get it because this is where we live.

I think that’s how it is with the kingdom of God. We get the basic concept because we have the Spirit, who lives in us. Those outside the kingdom don’t get it, because they don’t have the Spirit. To paraphrase:

Now I know that not all people in this world share this particular understanding of what it means to belong to God. I recognize that.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t talk about it with those people. Like the President discussing the value of protecting free speech even though his listeners may not agree with it, we have something to say to those who do not yet belong to God even if they won’t get the truth of what we say.

Because it’s not up to us to make them understand. It’s up to us to tell them the good news:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15.)

***

How do the people in your life respond to the fact that you belong to the kingdom of God?

What impact does your position in God’s kingdom have on the people around you?

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9 Responses to Jury Duty and the Kingdom of God

  1. “Many people live in countries where the government doesn’t ask the people what it should do; the government tells the people what they have to do.” – Sounds like a lot of pastors I know. I know that does not answer your question but it reminded me of something I shared with a young man last night who celebrated his eighteenth birthday.

    The young man has been staying with one of our ministry leaders, who is a social worker. The leader is moving to Georgia out of the area and the young man is going back to try and rebuild his relationships with his Mom and Grandfather. As we helped him celebrate his birthday he made the comment “you guys sound like you’re sending me to war” to which I replied “WE ARE” as I showed him Ephesians 6:10-13. Then encouraged him to lean heavily on the tools God has given us for warfare and to beware of any pastor (Which in the South, there are plenty) who uses terms like “Let me tell you what’s best for you” “I don’t think that’s in your best intrest” for they may be speaking from an authority they do not have. Always remember they only authority they have is the Word Of God and God’s HS which helps them understand it and maybe they know something you don’t.

    So that quote reminded me of that conversation for there are many in the South who would never think of their Pastors as being anything more that they’re grown up daddies and as a result not really free. Perhaps the conversation answers your questions, not sure though

    Thanks Tim!

    • Tim says:

      I think one common theme in the post and your comment, Pat, is authority. People exercise authority that generates form various sources: God, self, government. The advice given to that young man is to be careful of those who claim authority they might not be exercising legitimately.

      • AMEN! Just like those individuals who cannot vote, would never even consider such a right in other countries. There are way too many who would never consider having an independent thought apart from what their Pastor’s tell them on God’s Word. In fact I personally cannot think of few things that bind and restrict more Christians especially n the South, than that issue, Just as the lack of voting binds more people in the East for they have no choice.

  2. Erica M. says:

    The most common response I get concerning Christianity is “why would you subject yourself to all those *rules*?”, as if the rules are the only part of it. Thanks partly to people’s own sinful natures, and partly to the behavior of some Christians in their zealousness for God’s law, they get the impression God is trying to take away all their fun. But as I like to point out, we thought our parents were trying to take away all our fun when they told us not to eat all the candy, and got the wake up call when we did eat all the candy and wound up being sick.

    I think one of the challenges we face is to strike a balance between exhorting people to “go and sin no more” and showing them God’s love for everyone, regardless of what they’ve done.

    • Tim says:

      Good points, Erica. And I like to tell those people that if their concept of Christianity is a bunch of rule-keeping, then they are thinking of another faith entirely.

  3. Aimee Byrd says:

    “Because it’s not up to us to make them understand. It’s up to us to tell them the good news.” This is really what gives me the confidence to share my faith. Because, people do have their preconditioned ideas about what a Christian is, and why they don’t want to be a part of it. It really is good news—too good not to share!

    • Tim says:

      I know what you mean, Aimee. It takes away all the pressure of feeling like we have to be successful in evangelism. We aren’t called to success; we’re called to faithfulness.

  4. Laura says:

    Thanks for re-blogging this post, as I missed it before. “Because it’s not up to us to make them understand. It’s up to us to tell them the good news.” Yes, love your summary there! Too often we want to become the Holy Spirit – at least I do. : )

    • Tim says:

      An older man at church once asked me why I hadn’t converted someone I’d known for years. I said, “Because I don’t do the Holy Spirit’s job for him.” The guy backed off.

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