The pendulum is swinging
For some time now I have been involved within the New Zealand
legal system, and dealing with those who would come into conflict with it.
Generally, I have been impressed by the calibre of those that
work within the system in terms of their ability and intelligence. On more than
one occasion I have sat amazed as a Judge has summed up accurately and concisely
hours, and sometimes days of evidence after appearing throughout the hearing to
be both disinterested and inattentive. Judges, solicitors and other officers of
the court strive to maintain the integrity of Law and the Courts.
We do strive to maintain a high level of integrity -– but
does this mean that our legal systems here and abroad are perfect? Certainly
not! When all is said and done, they remain human systems. I have sat through
hearings where such a spin was put on events it would have done a political
party proud. Recently a decision was handed down in a case I was working on,
where it was acknowledged that due to the particular circumstances surrounding
it, this decision was based on the law and what the law permitted, perhaps more
than what was morally right.
So then if the system is not perfect, why do we bother to
have laws at all? In simplistic terms: laws are designed to protect the lives,
rights, freedom and property of its subjects while also establishing a moral
code or standard by which the community is expected to live. (To some of you
this may have a familiar ring!) A society without laws or standards would
probably result in a society governed by chaos and anarchy. Thankfully such a
scenario is unlikely to occur as even the most primitive and ancient cultures
have had their own justice systems to deal with the non-conformists. Perhaps it
is human nature, character or a simple in-built practicality that recognises the
need for such structured systems which enable people to live together in
The law is black and white and completely without mercy in
its written form. Those who transgress it fall immediately under its judgement.
As an officer of the law should I choose, I could be absolutely ruthless in its
application when dealing with transgressors, choosing to ignore reasons for or
circumstances of the offence, being completely without pity or understanding. As
I have pondered this situation I have gained further insight into the Law of
Moses of the Old Testament, and how the law (any law) was completely without
mercy when followed to the letter.
We know what happened with those to whom the Old Testament of
God was entrusted -– what a responsibility to enact. Many were deliberate, cold
and without mercy in its administration. Believing in their own righteousness,
pretending that they had never physically broken the law themselves, and as they
were masters and teachers of it, were justified in passing judgement on others.
They failed to recognise that the law was a schoolmaster, teaching and revealing
the nature and heart of God, while also providing a moral standard of living.
The same people so bound up by the letter of the law, blinded
by their self righteous attitudes and pride failed to recognise their own
Saviour and Creator when he walked amongst them. Their attitudes wrongly
empowered them to later cruelly mock, scourge and crucify Him. But praise to God
He redeemed us to Himself through His sacrifice on the cross, taking us out from
under the law and into the realm of grace.
As a young man (and I still like to think that I am one) I
was zealous in my love and purpose for God. I made many impetuous statements,
while telling the Lord of my undying love and devotion, and how I (unlike Peter)
would never leave him. Everything was so absolutely crystal clear, black and
white, right and wrong. My theology of life and the world was set and I had
neatly arranged everything to fit it. I looked down my nose at those who were
"not as on fire as I was" or who were not prepared to do things that I
would, or who did not agree with my views. In my zeal I had not recognised that
even while I lived under grace, I had become judgemental and legalistic,
following the letter of the law rather than the spirit. Having become like the
Pharisees and Sadducees without mercy or understanding, I had become at times
frustrated and pedantic over issues that in no way affected salvation.
Time, circumstance and I daresay grace enabled me to change.
As I got older, oddly enough 'I gained life experience' and found that life
is not so matter of fact and did not always fit within my theological box. I did
not have all the answers (to acknowledge that we do know all the answers does
not question our intelligence or ability, nor does it throw our faith into
question). I also realised, to my horror and shame, that at times in my life I
had deliberately turned my back on the Lord after declaring I would never do so.
So then, who was I to judge another if they fell or wandered from the Lord or
failed to live by my standards? (said now with tongue in cheek)
Should I, one who has on occasion let his own heart grow cold
towards the Lord, feel superior to a brother or sister who falls to sin. While
thinking on this we should not forget David, who committed both murder and
adultery. Under the law he was deserving of death yet when he repented God
welcomed him back, kept him as King, displaying through the law both love and
When we sit in judgement upon others in our hearts we are
really offering ourselves up as the standard of righteousness by which all
should live, this is nothing more than the sin of pride. Consider the judgement
of God upon David and Israel for David's sins of murder/adultery and pride.
See 2 Samuel 12:24 - upon who do you think God's judgement fell the heaviest?
Judgement comes to us all soon enough and as brothers and
sisters we should not be in a hurry to condemn. The way in which we measure out
judgement to others is the way in which we will be judged (Matthew 7:1-5) and
because we know that our own hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked
(Jeremiah 17:9) at times blinding us. While man sits in judgment upon man, true
justice and judgement will not be enacted. At best we can only have justice in
part, until the one true Judge comes.
Let us love and consider one another (Hebrews 10:24),
restoring one another in love, so that the world will know that we are true
disciples of Jesus. God bless you as you consider these words.