Today's Lectionary Text
1 John 2:1-6My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived.
“Innocent until proven guilty.” It’s a phrase we’ve come cherish as Americans. Our criminal justice system assumes a person accused of a crime is innocent unless he or she is proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Unfortunately, our criminal justice system has flaws. Race all too often plays a role, despite this being a land where we proclaim that all people “are created equal.” Money plays a role, at least regarding the quality of the defense a person can obtain. And those are just two of many factors.
In 20 years as an editor, I wrote my share of headlines regarding the guilt or innocence of a suspect in a criminal proceeding. I sat in the courtroom on several occasions as verdicts were read.
Thankfully, many of us will never set foot inside a courtroom, but we most definitely stand trial. And we are most certainly guilty. Our sinful offenses started in the Garden of Eden and continue to this day. If convicted, our sentence is death — separation from God.
Something I noticed in my years of dealing with the courts was the importance of a good attorney — a talented advocate. I think this point is why so many impoverished people, including many people of color in the justice system, fail to receive the help they need to ensure they receive fairness in justice. They can’t afford the more talented advocates.
Luckily, we all have an advocate with a spotless track record. He’s never lost a case. This passage from 1 John points out that Christ is our advocate with our judge, God.
This passage points out that Jesus defends all who keep his commandments to love God, love others and to make new disciples.
That’s good news! And it gets even better. Thanks to the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made by willingly going to it on our behalf, our lofty bill already has been paid in full.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious and loving God, we stand before you guilty as charged. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will. We have broken your law. We have rebelled against your love, failed to our neighbors and have not responded to the cry of the needy. Thank you for providing Jesus to free us from our captivity to sin and death.
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