Word Wednesday Nugget – Guilty as Charged

Dr. Rebekah McCloud

I recently saw a church sign that read, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Wow! That is a million-dollar question. What say you? The legal system requires a person to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charges lodged against them. The burden of proof is on the government to determine a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. A preponderance of the evidence (more than a 50% chance the allegation is true) determines guilt in a civil case. Would you be found guilty as charged if arrested?

In the Bible, many people were arrested, convicted, and found guilty of demonstrating Christian behavior. Some went to prison; some gave their lives.

  • Daniel refused to stop praying to God and found himself in the lion’s den (Daniel 6)
  • Samson went to prison for activities against the Philistines (Judges 16)
  • Micaiah prophesied Ahab’s demise (2 Chronicle 18: 12-27)
  • Shadrack, Meshack & Abendigo refused to bow to the King (Daniel 3)
  • Joseph went to prison for false charges from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39-41)
  • Paul faced a charge of blasphemy (Acts 16, 22-28)
  • King Herod persecuted Peter for belonging to the church (Acts 12)
  • Jeremiah went to prison for sharing the word of the Lord (Jeremiah 37-38)
  • John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded for speaking against King Herod (Mark 6: 14-20)
  • Paul and Silas advocated for Jesus; when arrested, they prayed and sang praises (Acts 16: 20-40)
  • Peter and John went to jail for teaching, preaching, and healing in the name of Jesus (Acts 4: 1-22, 5:17-26)

Jesus paid the ultimate price. He was accused, arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified (John 18-19). “A notice [was] prepared and fastened to [his] cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews,” (John 19:19). Our king died for our sins.

If I were arrested for being a Christian, I pray there would be enough evidence to convict me. I try to incorporate Christian conduct into everything I do. I am mindful of God’s requirements which are “to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes,” (Deuteronomy 10: 12-13). I follow the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) and the two new commandments of Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [and] Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matthew 22: 37-40). I include the Golden Rule, “Do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12), and Micah’s Mandate, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” (Michah 6:8).

Confession time: I do not do these things with 100% accuracy. It is not because I do not try. I am human and even when I give my best efforts I fall. Thank God that he extends his unchanging hand to lift me. I cannot make it without him. Isaiah 64:6 reminds us, “All of our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Fortunately, my performance is not the only measure God uses. Psalms 130:3 asks, “If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance?”

I ask myself if I would be found guilty by a preponderance of the evidence or by a reasonable doubt. I am working for my crown in glory. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Revelations 2:10 says in part, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

If I were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me? I pray so. What say you?

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