Uncommon Justice

I received a letter in the mail recently informing me that I must report for Jury Duty; this is not the first time I have been called. The last time I came very close to actually being seated on a jury trial, but a plea was made just before it began so we were dismissed, which I understand is a common occurrence.

Years ago, at another summons, I had to answer a lengthy questionnaire, screening potential jurors for a murder trial. My answers apparently were not approved by everyone since I received a letter telling me that I had been excluded from the pool. I really do want to serve on a jury, partly because I believe it to be my civic duty, but especially since it would be my first time.

Well, when I went to the most recent summoning, I discovered that the county had been ordered to screen some 3,000 potential jurors for a one time only event. That being a murder trial for which a five week block of time had been set aside. I once again had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire that, if my past history is any indicator, probably will be rejected. I think the problem they had, and probably will have, with me is my opinion that justice is not meted out fairly. Most people would agree that those who are rich and famous seem to get better justice than those who are not. We consider “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” to be not only a miscarriage of rhyme, but also of justice in favor of the rich and famous.

Justice is a concept that everyone can recognize even if difficult to define. Children especially can spot unjust treatment and are quick to point it out, starting with, “Hey, that’s not fair.” Is justice treating everyone the same, or making decisions based on individual circumstances? In dealing with the same crime, some states with a three-strikes-you’re-out statute will throw the book at someone (habitual), but lighten up on a first-timer. You could say that the “justice” is consistent, they’re both guilty, it’s that the consequences are different.

In discussions about “sins”, I’ve often stated (partly is jest) that I sort of like the Roman Catholic idea about mortal vs. venial sins. It seems to me that a white lie (if there is such a thing) should not carry the same weight as, say, murder. My Christian friends will counter with a sin is a sin, and God’s justice demands the same sentence. However, I believe that whether or not we would agree with the mortal vs. venial theology we live as though it is true. I know at times I have a faulty sense of what is sin and what is not, especially when I read Jesus’ teaching that if you call your brother a fool you are in danger of hell fire (Matt. 5:22). That certainly does not seem like a bad sin (there are some fools around), if one at all, except Jesus said it is (there must be more to the story). In God’s economy of justice we all are on three-strikes-you’re-out. Actually with a perfect score being the only acceptable on-your-own pass to heaven, one-strike-you’re-out has all of us guilty. And there is no preferential treatment on the sentencing in that the soul that sins shall die (Ez. 18:4).

No doubt on judgement day there will be a lot of, “Hey, that’s not fair, I was a good person; I belonged to the church; I didn’t commit any crimes,” only to hear, “Depart from Me, I never knew you (Matt. 7:23).” That’s pretty scary.

Part of the “being created in the Image of God” personality in the underlying drive to know God, is the sense of fair play or justice. Every person, not only children, has an innate sense of what is just or fair. It’s part of our spiritual DNA whether we acknowledge God or not. That’s why people who have been raised in a healthy environment, but without God, have the greatest difficulty admitting they are sinners. To most of them, sinning, if they believe in it at all, is usually associated with illegal activities, not social ones. How can they repent of sins they know nothing of?

On the other hand, those who have lived through tough times with much abuse (self and others), have a keener sense that violations have occurred which are social and maybe illegal. Their conscience bothers them. They are more likely to say “yes I have sinned,” and identify those who have sinned against them. For justice to be effected is really difficult for both groups. The first will say, “There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m a good person;” the second know something’s wrong but will say, “I’m not good enough for God to accept me.”

The amazing thing about God’s justice is the fact that He is not in control of it, we are! When the gavel is about to fall and the verdict announced, for those in Christ, Jesus steps up and says “I died for him/her, the debt is paid.” Without Christ, the wrath of God falls and the verdict is guilty. I am grateful that Jesus has placed me in a “witness protection program;” as long as I have a “witness,” I have a new name, a new identity, a new life, a new home, the old is passed away, the new has come (II Cor. 5:17). That is Amazing Grace and Uncommon Justice. Praise God!


  1. Rachael MacPhee says:

    It was so fun to get to hear about some of these things in person grandad. We loved reading your final thoughts and are always encouraged to continue to fight the good fight. Thanks you for sharing your wisdom. Love you!

  2. David Dodd says:

    I think you have found another gift that God has blessed you with. You should have already written and published several books by now. Maybe that’s what you can do now that your retired. Really enjoyed this article. I wonder sometimes why it took me so long to realize how much wisdom you have and what a role model you are. Thanks.

  3. Keenan Dodd says:

    Wow that was a great article Grandad!!!I enjoyed reading it and am excited that you are doing this in your retirement. Love you and Mimi

  4. Keenan,
    Thanks for your nice comment. You are a very good reader.


  5. great post as usual!

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