October 04, 2008

O. J. Simpson...the new verdict

Erica and I watched CNN last night and saw that the jury in the latest O. J. Simpson trial was still deliberating. My first thought was, "Not again!". I was so hoping that he would get a guilty verdict this time.

When the first trail happened in the 90's, Erica and I watched it with almost a morbid curiosity from the slow car chase in L. A. to the not-guilty verdict. I think we all did. I admit that I really felt he was guilty and was frustrated when he was able to go home to his family. I felt he was treated differently as some sort of reverse discrimination ploy to right the wrong of so many black men who had gone to prison for crimes they hadn't committed in the past.

As someone who's older and wiser, hopefully, I was surprised at my own fleshly reaction to the guilty verdict in this trial. I was, at first, gleeful. It was kind of like, "He's going to get his now. Justice served!".

However, as someone who has learned a lot about forgiveness in the last few years, I stopped and checked myself. This man is still a human being. Whether he is guilty of murder or not is debated. Whether he is guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery could also be debated. One thing is clear... Jesus would forgive him. Jesus would see past the crimes he has committed, or been accused of. He would tell O. J. Simpson, as he told the woman caught in adultery in the Bible, "Go and sin no more.".

Are there consequences for our actions? Of course! However, it's not my mission in life to judge this man, as much as I'd love to do so. My job as a Christian is to love him and forgive him. He is most certainly headed for prison. Consequences are harsh. There are those in Christian circles who would say that God is punishing him. I don't believe that prison is God's punishment. I believe that God allows consequences for our actions, but that jail is man's punishment.

We live in an exciting time. We are beyond the cross, and that means we are deserving of punishment, but Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we wouldn't have to be punished anymore.

My hope is that O. J. Simpson will accept the gift that Christ offers and that he will know this truth someday. Until that time, I will try to follow Jesus' example and humbly forgive those who have done wrong. If I don't forgive, how can I truly understand the great forgiveness that I have been given? How can I ask God to forgive me?