December 18, 2015 Brethren Letter
This past Thursday, my wife received a jury summons in the mail. Probably, a good many of us have received a summons at some point in time. I’ve received three over the years. At one time, the state of Florida formed jury pools from voter registration records. Today, the jury pool is selected from the driver’s license database. With that change, the probability of a Church member’s name coming up as a potential juror has increased dramatically.
According to the law (at least in our county), a summoned individual is not automatically exempt from serving as a juror due to religious beliefs. Every summoned individual (with limited exceptions), MUST appear in court, where only a judge has the authority to excuse a juror from serving. Failure to appear before the court, may even place a person in contempt by the presiding judge. Now, that does not mean that you have to serve as a juror whether you want to or not. It simply means that you MUST appear before the court to explain why you cannot serve as a juror.
In the three times my name was selected, I ended up being excused without actually appearing before the judge. The first time I was summoned, there were enough potential jurors in the room already and I was excused the very moment I arrived. I told the clerk my juror number. She looked the number up, smiled and said the words, “You’re excused.” I smiled too!
The second time I was called for jury duty, after waiting a couple of hours and seeing various groups head off to different courtrooms, my juror number was announced as part of the last group. I remember praying silently, “Well, Father here we go. Please give me Your words…”
We were led to the courtroom by a bailiff who instructed us to wait. Five minutes went by, ten minutes, fifteen… Finally, after about 20 minutes, the officer came out into the hall and said, “Thank you everyone, but a deal [plea bargain] has been reached. You can all go home.” Once again, I was excused.
The last time I was summoned, several groups of people left the waiting room, heading off to a courtroom. After 2-3 hours, a court employee stood up and announced that there were no more cases for the day. The rest of the potential jurors could leave the courthouse. For the third time, I did not have stand before a judge.
Brethren, even though I have never had to stand before a judge to explain my religious convictions, I absolutely would remain steadfast in my beliefs. We must NEVER COMPROMISE with scripture, no matter what the consequences could be! All of us must truly LOVE what we believe with every ounce of who we are! God will always be right there with us!
What about the subject of JURY DUTY? What are some of the reasons Christians should not serve as jurors?
Philippians 3:20, shows that we are under the authority of Jesus Christ, and that our “citizenship” is in heaven, spiritually. “For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” (GWT). Biblically, we are “Ambassadors for Christ.” “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20). As Ambassadors for Christ and citizens of the Kingdom of God, we should not be involved in this current world’s system of judgments and affairs. (See Revelation 18:4.)
In Hebrews 11, we see that those who have lived before us also realized that their spiritual “citizenship” was not of this earth. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
As Christians, we are not to judge according to man’s laws. “Judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1). Even Jesus Christ refused to judge in a certain dispute involving an inheritance. “And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Luke 12:13-14).
Finally, while we realize that there is a responsibility in God’s Church to decide matters within the Church of God (I Corinthians 6:1-5). Outside of God’s Church is a different matter as the apostle Paul shows in I Corinthians 5:12. “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside [outside of the Church of God]? Do you not judge those who are inside?”
Remember brethren, if any of you ever finds a jury summons in your mailbox, don’t worry. Be willing to stand up for what you believe in, and ask God for His guidance all of the way through!
Please have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,