In last Sunday’s sermon I shared that I spent most of the previous week doing jury duty. It was an unexpected assignment and a powerful learning experience. Have you ever sat on a jury? If you ever get the opportunity, I strongly encourage you to say “yes.” Here’s are two reasons why I would encourage jury duty and any other similar calls to civic service.
1. It is a way of serving your province and nation. Many people, upon learning that I had been selected for a jury, responded by saying, “Too bad for you. Couldn’t you have gotten out of that?” The truth is, I didn’t want to get out of it. I was curious about the process and thought it would be a good learning experience, but more importantly I believe it is every Christian’s civic duty, if at all possible, to say “yes” to such requests by our governing authorities (see Romans 13:1-7).
We live in an amazing country that has made it possible for citizens to receive a fair hearing when they have been wronged or have been accused of doing wrong. Judeo-Christian principles played no small part in shaping our society’s approach to justice. Where would we be if people routinely declined to accept their role when asked to serve in the court system? Or, to put it more personally, what if you were the victim of a serious crime and were seeking justice—or what if you were wrongly accused of something? Wouldn’t you hope that fair-minded people would step forward to sit on your jury?
Someone has said that being part of a democracy is like breathing out of two lungs. The one lung represents our rights. The other represents our responsibilities. Along with our privileges we need to accept our corresponding duties if our society is to remain strong. Some people will have legitimate reasons to decline a call to service like this, but all of us should be willing to embrace a level of discomfort to make our Canadian system work.
2. Who better than you? As I deliberated with my fellow jurors, I was impressed with just how fragile the legal process is. Being human, jury members were motivated by both good reasons for their conclusions and not-so-good reasons. I saw how important it is that people be judicious, fair, and self-aware about the biases and prejudices that might be at work in their decision making. What better place than a jury for a Jesus-follower to act as salt and light in the world as they (very prayerfully) seek to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before their God” (Micah 6:8)?
Of course, really, I am talking about something bigger than saying “yes” or “no” to jury duty. I am talking about how we as Christ-followers should look at our role in Canadian society. We all have an important part to play.--Pastor Tom
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