Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jury Duty and Judgment Day

One of the greatest days of my life was when I was summoned for jury duty. You heard me right, it was absolutely exhilarating. So far, I’ve only had the pleasure of being summoned once, but ever since then, I’ve been on pins and needles until the next time.

I still remember walking into the courtroom. As we entered, the plaintiff placed her arm in a very uncomfortable position. I was “weirded out” by how she was standing, but as I walked closer to her I realized what she was doing. She was showing off her 10-inch scar.

As we stood to greet the judge, we–the dozens of potential jurors–silently waited for the judge to explain the case. It was very simple. The plaintiff was suing the defendant for driving under the influence and causing her pain and suffering.

One by one, potential jurors were called to the front and interviewed. I had heard of this process, watched it in the movies, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that it was everything I ever dreamed of and more.

The judge’s job was to ensure that the people were able to remain unbiased. Her questions were simple. Questions like:  are you willing to consider giving someone a financial award based on pain and suffering? Is there any reason why you wouldn’t be able to be fair in your judgment in this case? Do you have any extenuating circumstances that will keep you from being able to serve? One by one, the jurors gave their answers. I will never forget some of the jurors’ excuses for why they would not be able to serve on the jury. There were many that day, and here are some of the most notable.

The openly racist lady

The day started off with a bang. The plaintiff happened to be Hispanic. The first lady told a story about some “abuse” she received from her previous employer. It ended up with her having to quit her job because of how unbearable it was working for this man who happened to be from Mexico. She then looked to the judge, sobbing. and said, “Right now. because of how my employer treated me. I’m not sure I would be able to judge fairly towards the plaintiff in this case.” She went on to say, “I’m sure she is probably a very sweet lady with a wonderful family, but I don’t think I would be able to get over the fact that she reminds me of my employer.” Incredulous, the judge asked, “Are you saying that you won’t be able to avoid racism towards the plaintiff because of what country she’s from?” The lady simply said, “That is correct.” And so the floodgates were opened.

The guy who was involved in accident as a youth in England

This one was the most shocking. This man with a British accent described,  in very gruesome detail, the story of when he was driving as a young man, within the first month of having gotten his drivers’ license, and hitting a young boy who was crossing the street. He kept saying, “I am so fascinated by this I wish I could serve on this jury, but I simply can’t; any conversation about car accidents will bring back that boy’s face to my mind.” As the judge pressed him and tried to convince him that it was a completely different situation, he insisted, “I am incredibly fascinated by all this, I really, really wish I could do this, but I cannot.”

The guy who would not award any money for pain and suffering

This man probably won the best excuse of the day, and I’m surprised no one else used it after him since it was so effective. Maybe because no one would degrade themselves enough to say what this man said. Simply put, he said, “Looking at the lady, she probably suffered a bit, I’m really sorry she went through it, but I’m not giving her any money, not even a penny; people need to man up.” After the judge attempted to talk to the man and to reason with him a bit, it was quite obvious that the man was going to stick to his story.  Finally, and obviously, the plaintiff’s lawyer dismissed him.

The guy who did not trust doctors

This one won most ridiculous excuse of the day. This guy declared, “I do not trust doctors! If you put a doctor on the stand, I will not believe anything he says!” At this point, I was laughing out loud in the courtroom. The judge was also in disbelief. She kept asking him to explain, but he simply restated his position. Finally, she said, “You’ve never been to the doctor?”  He said, “No.” she went on to ask, “So, what would you do if you got a broken leg?”  He sat there for at least a minute, and finally quipped, “Well, if I broke my leg I’d probably be in shock and they would drag me to a hospital and do surgery on me, but as soon as I came to my senses I’d leave.” Of course, both lawyers and the judge seemed to agree that they were better off without this juror.

The girl who cried and begged

This girl simply cried. When asked if there was any reason why she wouldn’t be able to serve on the jury, she said, “I have work and they don’t pay for time off.”  The judge stated that it wasn’t a good excuse, and the girl simply began sobbing uncontrollably. As the judge tried to reason with her and get her to calm down, she just kept crying and saying, “I can’t, please I can’t!” Eventually, one of the lawyers showed her some mercy and dismissed her.

Watching her cry is when it dawned on me. The smile on my face disappeared as I considered what was happening.

I couldn’t help but imagine the scene on judgment day.

As the Bible declares, first comes death and then comes judgment; everyone will be judged by the Lord, and so many–the majority of people–are not ready for that day. Like a student who didn’t do his homework and is thinking about what to say to the teacher, so many people are coming up with excuse after excuse in their minds for what they will say to God one day.

As I drove home that day, I couldn’t help but think of the dozens of excuses I heard that day, and my heart broke over the billions that God will hear one day.

My mind thought of Romans 1:18, that man is without excuse, and, unlike the overly gracious judge in that courtroom, God will not entertain any excuses that day.  Then, my mind obviously thought of Matthew 7:21-23, where it states that people who even claim to do miracles will be told by the Lord, “I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.”

Does your mind think about that day?

My favorite question to ask people when I do evangelism is, “If you were to die today, and God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would you say to Him?” I like it because it gets right to the Gospel, and what people are trusting in to get them into Heaven.

As you look around you today, I encourage you to see a bunch of souls who will stand before God that day and will be fully deserving of the punishment coming their way, and I encourage you to ask them that question, and when they answer, to say with a smile on your face, “Can I tell you how I would answer that question?” And give them the Gospel.

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