The Irony of Comparative Innocence

I am amazed at the frequency with which people shake their head and wonder out loud something like, “how can a lawyer defend guilty people?”  They don’t necessarily differentiate between certain types of crimes, but sometimes follow-up with certain categories that they are particularly repulsed by.

The fact that people don’t have an appetite for criminal defense work isn’t what shocks me.  It’s the fact that the people who most often voice this type of opinion are “church” people. They are relatively committed to their faith and want to be known as committed to God in their everyday lives.

This position of superiority and judgment is self-justified by their comparative innocence.  They are able to maintain a moral high ground because they are not in the same category as the hypothetical accused they oppose in their statement. This comparison is what makes it comfortable for them to judge and decide themselves superior.

The reason I stand in awe of the frequency with which I hear this from this particular demographic is that the very faith they trumpet opposes the position they have justified. The basis of their beliefs is Grace, without which they would be as guilty as anyone locked up in any jail or prison. While their offenses may not leave them criminally charged or civilly liable, they would leave them guilty just the same.  Only by the Grace of the Author and Finisher of their faith can they hope to overcome the sentence they would otherwise suffer.

This happens when we enjoy Grace but cling to the punishments of the law. We want the freedom of forgiveness but the predictability of the rules. The result presents itself as a people known by the Name of forgiveness but clinging to the behaviors of those that persecuted Him.

I know this tribe well and associate with it daily. I won’t judge or reject them based on the judgment and rejection of others. I am equipped to decide this because I have neither been judged or rejected when I deserved both.

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