4 Reasons I Volunteered for Jury Duty

justice2

That’s right, I volunteered for Jury Duty.  No, to my knowledge, I’ve not lost my ever-loving mind.  I thought it through and I volunteered to serve for the next four months on a Grand Jury. I suppose I should start out with how I was actually able to volunteer since, normally, one is “volunteered” for it.  When I checked in, I assumed it would be like other jury selections of which I’ve gleefully participated and an elimination process would ensue at which point I would be among the chosen few or, like many of the hopefuls I would be playing judge for, get off Scott free. This was very different.

To my surprise, I quickly learned that the court prefers volunteers to sit on the Grand Jury.  Because of the length of service and the nature of this particular type of jury, it is best to have those who, for whatever reason, want to serve.  

Admittedly, my first reaction was, “Who in their right mind would want to serve for four months on some jury?” The more I thought about it, though, the more it became a real decision I had to consider: do I sit back and hope for the best, waiting to see if there were enough volunteers to fill the seats without me being drafted, or proactively take one of the seats of my own volition.  The decision turned out to be a tough one, but I chose the former…of course you already knew that.  The question is, why?

As I sat deliberating over my course of action, I quickly weighed the pros and cons: I thought about the time commitment–all day every other Monday and Tuesday throughout the entire Summer.  Well, there’s one strike against it.  I thought about the heinous nature and the sheer volume of the crimes I might have to consider…strike two.  I thought about my already busy schedule as a pastor.  I didn’t need to add something so time-consuming to my already-full docket.  Strike three…but not out.  As I began to pray about it, asking God to reveal to me what He wanted me to do, other considerations began to flood my mind.

1.  We talk a lot about the need for the Church to make a difference in the world…a world where her influence as the Church is being eroded almost daily.  It seems as though anything related to conservative orthodox Christianity is marginalized as antiquated and out of touch with mainline culture.  How can we really make a difference, putting our faith into action?  This is an opportunity, as a child of the very One who defines what is just, to serve in a position of influence within the community.  As one filled with the Holy Spirit of God, there is no one better qualified to serve in such a capacity.  Yet, rather than take these opportunities, we regularly do everything we can to get out of them. Ouch.

2.  I’ve done my share of complaining about the justice system.  Almost every time I watch the news, I bemoan the lack of accountability with politicians bending (or outright redefining) the law to hardened criminals who get little more than a slap on the wrist for destroying lives.  If I’m not willing to serve when I have the opportunity to make a difference, quite frankly, I need to shut up.

3.  To serve is a privilege in a free society. In this Country, an individual accused of a crime is not left to defend themselves before some crooked dictator, but before fellow citizens and peers. We, as citizens, have the final say in declaring guilt or innocence. That is something I am both thankful for and whole-heartedly support and should be proud to participate in the process.

4.  Most importantly, I thought about my children.  I want my sons to grow up with a sense of responsibility.  I want them to be ready at all times to stand up for what is right and be a part of the solution in the world in which they live.  I want them to be men of integrity who can be trusted to do the right thing all the time and be willing to be inconvenienced in service to others.  What am I telling them if, when I have the opportunity to take a stand and voluntarily serve the cause of justice, even when inconvenient, I figure out a way to “be excused” from service.  I have a responsibility to my children to set an example and I cannot take the “do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do” approach.  

So, I am gladly serving.  I voluntarily said yes and I know it was the right decision.  That’s not to say there aren’t some really good and valid reasons not to serve under certain circumstances. What I am saying is that we need to do everything we can to make ourselves available to positively influence our world. Am I looking for a pat on the back or an “atta-boy”?  Nope.  Really, this should be the very minimal we do to work at applying our faith in the world in which we live, so it’s really nothing special.  Besides, my first reaction was to try and get excused, so I’m certainly not being noble. It’s really an attempt to remind us to be a bit more intentional about engaging our culture, inconveniencing ourselves to serve where and when we can, living as ambassadors in this world for the glory of God. There is, perhaps, more at stake than we just may realize.

They’re Not YOUR Kids

MelissaHarrisPerryNot sure if you saw this or not, but a recent commercial on MSNBC has one of its hosts claiming that we have to get past the notion that our kids are actually “our” kids.  Instead, they belong to the community.

I don’t disagree with her basic idea of the importance of looking after each other and helping take care of each other, including our children.  Certainly, it’s what we do in the Church and in our communities.  At The Gathering, our children are “our” children to the degree that we love them all and will do whatever we can to help them, but we never claim that they are our kids to the degree that we usurp the authority and responsibility from the actual parents.  We come alongside them to support them and encourage them.  This host takes this idea to an alarming extreme, advocating a very dangerous ideology.

Too many people are already having kids and turning to the government to provide  for them because they cannot do so themselves.  Some to the sad degree that they continue to have children because they can get more money through welfare programs without taking personal responsibility.  Claims such as this one will only embolden and empower parents to forego their responsibility for their children and encourage government to do what it was never intended to do.

This is a very blatant move to solidify the United States as a pure welfare state, but to a shocking degree.  Though there are increasing assaults on the family as it has historically been understood, this is one I didn’t see coming.

Watch the video yourself and, if you have reaction, let me hear it in the comments below.

[HT: Denny Burk]

Real Community

I’ve been thinking about the real purpose of church and what we’re supposed to be about.  Ultimately, of course, it’s to glorify Christ by making disciples (Matt. 28:19-20), but how do we do that together…as a church; a family?

Hebrews 10:24-25 came to mind:

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

This is all about purpose of meeting together.  Not just on Sundays, but every time we’re together, whether in person or via email or phone, or Facebook and Twitter.  In whatever context it might be, this should be the goal.

The reality is that we’re going to spur one another on.  The question remains to what?  Clearly, what honors Christ is to stir up/encourage/challenge/spur on each other to love and good works.  When we fail to do this with intentionality, we always sink to the lowest denominator–it’s in our nature.  So, let’s do it.  Let’s think up ways we can challenge each other to godliness and love and good works together and risk actually doing it, because time marches on and Jesus is coming back…and the world continues to die without Him.

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