The Judge of all the Earth
I have to confess. I’m not saying it was the healthiest thing in the world to do, but boy did we love doing it. It would be evening, the children in bed or playing quietly. I would look across the room at my dear wife. She’d cock an eyebrow, I’d give a sly grin. “You want to?” “Yeah, let’s. Let’s go watch a murder show.” We loved these programs. You know the ones I mean. Keith Morrison would stand before a beautiful log cabin and say, “They had it all. He, a booming business, she children and friends she cherished. It was a match made in heaven.” Then he’d turn toward the camera, a few ominous notes would play and he’d ask, “Or was it?”
What would follow would be a tale carefully told, with plenty of red herrings, surprise reveals, and finally a trial. We would make our predictions, and then, when the verdict was finally read, howl or cheer depending on how we’d done. As the credits rolled we’d go back over the case, explaining our reasoning, and more often than not, challenging the reasoning of the jury. How could they not see that other guy’s potential guilt as reasonable doubt? Sure it looked bad, but they must have forgotten that other bit of evidence.
At the end of each program I would feel frustrated for the wrongly convicted, or anger at the wrongly acquitted. But I had to confess that television is television, not a criminal courtroom. My judgment was based on the case made by the television producers whose goal was, from beginning to end, to get me to tune in. I saw at most fifteen minutes of the trial, and every bit of evidence shown was sifted by television.
I fear we all like to peek into the train wrecks of others. We all want to gather our own evidence, weigh that evidence, and deliver our own verdict. It may be a murder case in an idyllic town, or it may be the scandal du jour on the internet. It may be the Miami Dolphins’ locker room or a power struggle where we work. The fact that we don’t know, indeed aren’t called to know, all the facts doesn’t usually slow us down. We feel compelled not only to give a verdict, but to share it with the world. What we don’t know we fill in with our own speculations, and then turn around and treat and spread our speculations as facts. We treat issues of jurisdiction, rules of evidence, procedure as so many roadblocks to be evaded in our rush to judgment, not bulwarks of justice but technicalities created to protect the guilty.
The internet has taught us that all we need to know is just a google away. Television has taught us that the bold looking one is the villain, the sad looking one the victim. And our pride has taught us that we know more than we actually know. The sundry systems of justice that God has established established, civil and criminal courts, church courts, because they are peopled by people, cannot ensure absolute justice every time. But mobs, whatever form they take, are always a perversion of justice. No matter how wicked their object may be.
The judge of all the earth never fails. And it is He who has established His courts. May we learn to submit to His law, to His ways, to His wisdom. May we take off our own self-appointed judicial robes, and remember that we wear His righteousness instead. May we be convicted, for our pride.