by Douglas Melton
From a whole litany of things I love about being with our students at Falls Creek, one of my favorites is that, for a week, my life is pretty much sequestered from the outside world. Given that for 51 weeks out of the year, all of us are bombarded throughout the day with news on TV, the radio, emails, tweets and texts, it’s kind of nice (make that real nice) to just leave that all behind for a few days.
Consequently, it wasn’t until I called home one evening that my wife told me the verdict was in on the Casey Anthony trial (the young mother accused of murdering her daughter). To say the least, I was surprised at what I heard. Based on the outcry from many Americans, I don’t think I’m alone.
Please understand I’m not saying she is guilty. I would not presume to know that. Nor am I, in any way, saying the jury executed a miscarriage of justice. Given the parameters for a finding of guilt in this matter, they probably came to the only conclusion they could. Further, this article is not intended to sort through the evidence and render a verdict. I’ll leave that to Nancy Grace and the cable channels.
I just want us to see some key truths that are being revealed in the outcry we’re hearing from millions around the country. The outrage expressed by many over this verdict helps us to understand that:
1. All people have a deep-seated, innate desire and demand for justice. The people’s response to the news of the verdict has been nothing short of a near lynch mob. Judge and jury have received death threats. Why all the fuss? Because we ALL are wired to demand justice. In fact, the world seems out of balance, out of whack, if you will, when we hear a verdict like the one handed down in this case. We feel like there has been a wrong that hasn’t been righted. Now what’s strange about this feeling is the fact that all around us, we constantly see that life is unfair; we even teach our children that. “Life isn’t fair,” we preach to them. So how in the world can we explain that, on the one hand, we know that life isn’t fair, and, yet, on the other hand, know that we deeply desire justice? The only explanation that makes any sense is to acknowledge that each individual is created in the image of God who is perfectly just and holy; that sin entered into the world through man, which marred that image. Thus, while we see that life isn’t fair, we still desire justice.
2. There is absolute right and absolute wrong. The majority of those who are screaming that this verdict isn’t right are the same majority who would also want to argue that there is no absolute right. That makes no sense. If there is no absolute right or wrong—if right and wrong are relative—then how can anyone say this isn’t right? But, instead, the outcry over this verdict reveals that people really do harbor a sense of absolute right and wrong, even though they may turn right around and argue against it.
3. People really do want to have a hope in an eternal existence beyond this life. Again, even though they may not acknowledge it, people hope that somehow, someday, every wrong will be made right. Yet, we know that this cosmic correction doesn’t always happen in this lifetime. So when does it happen? It happens in eternity. There is deep within us a yearning for eternity where every account will be settled.
I have found that pretty much everyone is willing to voice an opinion about what they think is the truth in this trial. Use this opportunity to help people understand eternal truths that they can’t afford to miss:
• We all are created in the image of God.
• There is absolute right and absolute wrong.
• There is life beyond this earthly existence.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Douglas Melton is senior pastor of Oklahoma City, Southern Hills, and president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.