An unsavory fellow was arrested for selling home-distilled whiskey. His lawyer, lacking any other defense, put him on the stand and asked the jurors to look carefully at his client. "Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury," concluded the attorney, "Can you sit there and honestly believe that if my client had any whiskey he would sell it?"
He was acquitted.
My courtroom experience is very limited (mostly provided by John Grisham and a couple of stints of jury duty), but I’m aware that the impression a defendant makes on the jury is critical to the verdict. Lawyers advise their clients on how to dress, how to sit, and how to answer questions if called to testify. Of course, the defendants usually comply because they very much want to avoid being convicted.
We do, too. All our lives, you and I have been on trial before a jury of our peers. They scrutinize everything we do and say. And we quickly learn how to dress, how to talk, and how to act to try to win their approval – to be pronounced “cool” or “OK” or loveable. If we don’t learn, we pay dearly for not “fitting in.”
Some people pull it off. They convince those in the jury box that they have all the right stuff. They are the popular ones. The problem is that some of us are found wanting. And even those who convince the jury find that the jury keeps changing. Just when we think we’ve won them over, there is a new set of faces looking us over, checking us out, and deciding our fate.
Here is some very important and very good news for Christians who worry about how our peers judge us: Their verdict doesn’t count! They don’t decide our case; the judge does. And the judge in life happens to be our Father who decided in our favor before we even entered the courtroom. “He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death,” the apostle Paul wrote to Christians at Colossae, “to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).
In Christ, God sees us “without blemish” even when others see flaws and failures. He refuses to hear further accusation against us, not because we are innocent, but because Jesus already served our sentence. It’s an open and shut case, and we win!