Eating From the Wrong Tree with the Judge Who Looks Like Me
Lessons From Jury Duty
I was recently selected for jury duty. Somehow, I found my way through the elimination process and I was one of 12 chosen to hear and decide the case. What an experience this was. First, let’s talk about jury selection. The defense and prosecution needed people who would be open to hearing their side of the case. Knowing this, I was amazed at how many people shamelessly gave extremely one-sided answers so they would be sent home.
After each side had one hour to ask as many questions to as many people as they could, we were asked to leave and upon our return I was chosen. Then, there was a moment. The judge made a joke about us being the first round draft picks. It was a cheesy, out of place joke that I thought was funny. I actually thought that is a joke I would make. Then I thought, the judge seems like someone I would choose to hang out with. He is comfortable with himself, confident and successful. I don’t remember if I voted for him specifically, but being in my county, it makes sense that we elected a judge who is like us. That is what we do when we vote.
Then I thought about us jurors; we were chosen by the attorneys. How did the attorneys want the case to be judged? They chose people who would empathize with their point of view. They needed jurors who related to their side of the case. They, in a sense, needed to hand pick their own judge.
Our legal system is the greatest system in the world, but it is a based on choosing a judge that looks like us. How did we get here? In the beginning, God looked at man and woman and instructed them. They could eat from any tree in the garden and had a choice from the beginning. They could eat from any tree except for one, because when they eat from that tree they will die (Genesis 2:16-17).
Imagine all of the fruit in the garden. Imagine everything you need is there. The tree of life was also there. By eating of that tree, Adam and Eve could live forever. But, right beside the tree of life is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was the only tree they couldn’t eat from. But the fruit looked perfect! The serpent explained to her that if they ate the fruit, they would be like God. They would know the difference between good and evil and their eyes would be opened (Genesis 3:5). The father of lies was actually telling the truth. Good lies always have a strong base of truth.
It appeared God was holding out on the first couple. Tragically, they found out He was not holding out on them. In that moment in the garden, we became the judge. We no longer had a heart bent on following God. We now had the power to judge. Our sense of justice was forever distorted. We stopped comparing behavior to God. We began to compare ourselves to each other.
First, Adam was caught and he blamed his wife. Then, she blamed the serpent. People were no longer accountable. It was chaos! Now, when we try to judge, even the legal system of the greatest country in the world reflects our fallen nature. We have lost contact with God Almighty who is the ultimate judge and only right judge. Now all we can hope for and trust in is our ability to judge or elect a judge. Oddly enough, the best ones seem to look like me. They seem to act like me. Unless, I ask you, then the best ones look like you.
Judgment is at the core of the human condition. Gossip ruins lives. We judge and try to change one another. We are puzzled by people who don’t view life the way we do. We take our political views and make them Bible views. We take our patriotism and make it Christian. We decide! We no longer eat from the tree of life; we eat from the tree of judgment. We are comfortable with it because we agree with the judge (us).
So, what do we do? Stay connected to Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He, and He alone, has access to the fruit of the right tree. Don’t eat from the wrong tree with the judge who looks like you. Eat with the judge who is not like you, but has access to the tree of life. Only then, do we see clearly as He consumes our judgments with His grace. Only then, can we begin to be conformed to His goodness. We must eat from the right tree with Jesus, to see the world as He sees.
See you next Monday!