I recently sat on a jury. It was a criminal trial that lasted three days. When we first adjourned to the jury room for deliberations, our initial vote was 4 guilty and 8 not guilty. And the two camps seemed far apart in their opinions.
As the hours went by, I began to ask the Lord to do a work in my heart first and also in theirs. I asked Him to reveal some insights that would help us all see the evidence from a common perspective.
We deliberated on the three counts for a total of about 5 hours. And in the end, our decision was unanimous on all three counts.
As we waited for the judge to call us back into the courtroom, I remarked to my fellow jurors, “Wow. I am encouraged. In a world that is fractured and frequently responds with anger and distrust, we managed to look at some complex issues, sort out some time lines, and share with each other with a sense of purpose and unity. Our performance the last few days really gives me hope that our world can get its act together as well.”
They all agreed and off we went.
I have been thinking about that observation. We had a job to do and we had to agree. No choice. We had to sort things out and respond with a heart of unity or all the time and effort would be lost with a mistrial. It was important that we get along and make it happen.
That situation makes me think of the mindset of Paul in the book of Ephesians. His number one theme for that letter was his heart’s desire for them to be in unity. He put it this way in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”
The term “submission” is actually a military term that speaks of order, not rank. It suggests a mutual respect that overrides disagreements. It could apply to so many situations and relationships.
As the holidays are approaching some of us are beginning to cringe at bit. We are going to be forced to visit with the in-laws, have dinner with our cousins and probably sit next to loud mouth Uncle Fred. And we are already trying to think of ways to just hunker down in our own “cave.”
But we shouldn’t. Those in-laws aren’t out laws. Our cousins just don’t know us well enough and Uncle Fred is frequently misunderstood (besides, his hearing aids don’t work properly). This year, let’s embrace the thoughts of the psalmist in Ps. 133:1. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
Try it. You might be surprised at the final vote!