July 17, 2018 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
A man stands up again in the court of public opinion. He is now pressing the court for a decision, but the court is deeply divided. The judges ask their questions in rapid-fire succession. While the man is seemingly alone, he is able to hold up under fire and challenge the judges for cause. Hear what is being said in the main courtroom:
THE COURT: Sir, when we heard you last, you told us that we have a decision to make. You asked us: "What will we do with Jesus Christ?"
THE MAN: That is right. The ultimate issue of life is whether you are rightly related to God, your creator. It is more important than who you will marry, what you will do for a living or where you will live. You cannot be rightly related to God without Jesus Christ. Thus, whether you put your faith in Jesus Christ is directly related to whether you are rightly related to God.
THE COURT: Sir, do you have authority to make these statements? These are bold statements. Besides, there are many of us and only one of you! Why is your opinion worth hearing? We seem to be in the majority.
THE MAN: My authority rests on the Bible. The Bible is the word of God, and it does not affect its truthfulness that there are more that ignore it than those who embrace it. Truth is true no matter what opinion individuals may hold. Our culture has quickly embraced science as true and religion as opinion. But that is an oversimplification, a false dichotomy. The Bible contains true facts about God and the important matters of life.
THE COURT: We don't understand the Bible.
THE MAN: Have you read it?
THE COURT: No, we haven't. We told you we don't understand it.
THE MAN: How can you understand a book you have never read?
THE COURT: Never mind! We are divided on the issue of Jesus Christ. We can no longer speak with one voice. Each judge will ask you their particular questions from the bench, one by one.
THE MAN: Very well. I will do my best with your questions.
JUDGE APATHY: I stand indifferent, sir. I really don't care. There are more important matters in life. What about earning a living and saving for retirement? What about Boston sports teams? What about the Patriots and their big win last week? Religion is the opiate of the people!
THE MAN: Jesus said, "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36) Your soul is the most important thing, it is all you are and all you have. It will live forever in either heaven or hell. You cannot take your money with you. Jesus once told a church, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:16) Sports, rather than religion, is the opiate of the people. Watching a sports game is enjoyable to be sure but what will it mean 100 years from now that the Patriots beat the Ravens last week? On the other hand, your indifference to Jesus will land you in eternal regret and misery.
JUDGE BUSYNESS: I am way too busy for this nonsense. Please come back and I will listen to you when I slow down and need someone to talk to in my old age.
THE MAN: Jesus warned humanity of the foolish excuses we can make for rejecting his great invitation. (Luke 14:15-24) Jesus also warned, "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down
with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34) You presume, sir, on your next heart beat! You are not guaranteed old age or another opportunity to receive the good news. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) Tomorrow never comes. Tomorrow is too late.
JUDGE ALMOST: You know, you almost persuade me to believe. But I don't think you met my burden of proof. Besides, I have just been in the CDU.
THE MAN: What is the CDU?
JUDGE ALMOST: It is the Clinical Decision Unit or, as they affectionately call it, the Can't Decide Unit.
THE MAN: The Apostle Paul, in prison unjustly, once presented the gospel to King Agrippa who said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" Paul replied, "Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains." (Acts 26:28-29) Your position, judge, is eerily reminiscent of this. I don't know what your burden of proof is but it appears to me to be only a convenient excuse for you remaining in your sins. A subterfuge! A smokescreen! I heard a popular song once which aptly said, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." With your hands still in your pockets, you cannot reach out in faith and accept the gift of eternal life in Christ.
JUDGE I.M. GOOD: I am good enough. I do good things and have never done anything really bad. I have no need! Plus, my parents had me baptized when I just a baby.
THE MAN: Your honor, self-righteousness is no righteousness at all. For "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6) Neither your baptism, your good works nor your good intentions will get you anywhere. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
JUDGE I.M. BADD: I am much too bad for Jesus. Why, if I went to a Christian church, the walls would fall in on me. I can't be as good as those people!
THE MAN: Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." (Matthew 9:12) Jesus has not "come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matthew 9:13) It was the great Apostle Paul who even said, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15) Come to Jesus as you are and he will make you clean.
JUDGE HYPOCRITES: There are far too many hypocrites in the church. I could never go there!
THE MAN: What's one more? I apologize. Please forgive me for being impertinent. Judge, "each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12) We are all hypocrites at times for we are all sinners. We all pretend to be something we are not. Sometimes, we pretend to better than we are, and sometimes we pretend to be worse than we are. I have learned well that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
JUDGE I.M. SEEKING: I want to know more, sir. I am keeping an open mind. What shall I do to further investigate your truth claims?
THE MAN: Oh, judge, I am so encouraged by your openness of mind and desire to seek him! This is a very good sign. Pray to God the Father that he would reveal Christ to you fully. I never
knew such a prayer that was not answered. It reminds of the man that said to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Read the Bible. Perhaps you could start with the gospel of John with a solid, readable English translation. I like the ESV myself. Attend a church where the Bible is faithfully preached. Judge, it would be my privilege to help you with your questions and to help you on your journey. Please know that the Lord is gracious and kind. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory." (Matthew 12:20)
THE COURT: What about the rest of us?
THE MAN: The invitation still stands. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) The wise still seek him! "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near." (Isaiah 55:6) Beware of the danger of delay.
THE COURT: We must adjourn for today. We must say this has been quite a hearing. Thank you, sir. This Court stands in recess.