A few days before we moved from Pennsylvania I went to court. It was nothing serious. When we had our auto accident in December, the police officer gave me a traffic citation. The charge was “driving at a safe speed for the road conditions.” He meant “unsafe speed” but I took the words written on the ticket literally. I thought I was driving at a safe speed!
It was the day after a snowstorm and the road was all snow and ice. I was driving slowly down a country road when my tire caught the berm. The car began to skid and sheared off a utility pole, deploying our airbags and totaling our car. Thankfully we were unhurt.
The officer apologized for giving me a ticket, saying he “had to do it.” Being the ornery guy I am, I “had to” challenge it. I figured it was not my driving, but the unsafe road condition that was to blame.
So I had my day in District Court. The police officer didn’t show up. The judge said that since there wasn’t any evidence against me, he declared me “Not Guilty” and dismissed the $100 fine. Vindicated!
I knew I was not guilty. At least I think I was. To tell the truth I was not sure how fast I was going, even though I know I was traveling under the speed limit. Perhaps it was a little too fast for the road conditions … But I shouldn’t have been issued a ticket. My conscience is clear…. I think. In any case the judge has spoken, and that settles it.
One thing I didn’t tell you is that I have a friend who is a judge. Not the judge of my case; my judge friend is a friend of this judge. When I explained my situation to my friend, he shared his expertise. He did not “fix it.” I would not have asked him to do that, but it doesn’t hurt to have a judge on your side.
“Our Daily Bread” recently printed a story about Ffyona Campbell, who was famous as the first woman to walk around the world. But the truth was she cheated. She had broken the guidelines of the Guinness Book of World Records by riding in a truck a short distance during the trip. To clear her conscience, she confessed her deception and forfeited the right to be listed in the record book.
The apostle Paul says that all people have “the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, their thoughts sometimes accusing or else excusing them.” Whether or not people believe in God or a divine moral code, each person has an inner moral compass that tells them right from wrong.
All of us are accused by our conscience sometimes for doing wrong. That is judgment.The Christian gospel provides a way to clear our conscience and have us declared “not guilty.” That is the power of the gospel. It is the power of inner peace that comes from a clear record.
Only one man in history has ever claimed to have the authority to judge the world and also the ability to free the guilty. Jesus said that he came to save the world and was returning one day to judge the world.
Either he was mistaken, or the early church got it wrong when they quoted him, or it is true. Personally I believe him. In any case, it is always good to have the judge as a friend. What a friend we have in Jesus!