Over the past month and a half much of our nation has been riveted by the Casey Anthony trial. People flew across the country to attend and others took time off work to watch on television. It’s been the headline news story of every news program just about every day and it’s been the topic of countless water cooler discussions. Casey Anthony, so it seemed to the general public, was guilty of murder in the first degree and should be sentenced to life in prison, if not death. It should, then, be no surprise that the reaction of the public to the verdict “not guilty” was one of outrage, confusion, and sadness. I must admit my first response was, “That is ridiculous!” There have been numerous Facebook pages opened. Consider the ones listed below with the amount of people who have “liked” them:
- Boycott Casey Anthony – 9,699
- Fry Casey Anthony – 9,333
- Casey Anthony is Guilty – 54,727
- Casey Anthony Should Fry – 6,176
- I Hate Casey Anthony – 21,292
Granted, this general response was coming from a decent motive of simply wanting justice for what happened to little Caylee, and granted that most of the responses are probably coming from non-Christians, I got to thinking…
As Christians we need to be very careful how we respond to this situation. God’s glory ought to be our first priority in all of life and instances like this are no different. There are no free passes or loopholes. Make no mistake…God is jealous for His glory. And what better way for us to showcase His glory than in our reaction to Casey Anthony and her trial! It is such a sensitive issue in our culture, thus we should strive to be the salt of the earth, lest the salt should lose it’s taste (Matthew 5:13). There are so many factors at work here so I will just touch on a few to hopefully get you thinking about how you should rightly respond to this situation to the non-believers around you.
Jesus Loves the Little Children
In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Luke adds that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Of the three things which serve to prove authentic religion, one of them is to care for orphans. Clearly Jesus has a soft spot in his heart for children; so should we. We should protect them, teach them, provide for them and prepare them to lead as the next generation. They are precious in His sight and ours and when something tragic happens like what happened to Caylee, we hurt. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, something might be wrong if you don’t care. But I believe we can find solace in the fact that Caylee is in the perfect presence of Jesus right now, out of harm’s way, enjoying heaven. (Read more on this here).
As Old As Cain and Abel
You have probably heard by now that Anthony has been receiving death threats. This is not a new story. Remember Cain and Abel? God was pleased with Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s and so, out of jealousy, Cain murdered his brother. God’s pronouncement on Cain is that the earth would no longer yield it’s strength to him and he would be a fugitive and wanderer the rest of his life. What has this to do with us? If we were there when God sentenced Cain, would we not have demanded the death penalty? Would we have crowded around to watch as God deliberated what He should do? What’s more, Cain expressed his fear that others would try to avenge Abel’s death by murdering him in kind. But God was not finished with His pronouncement. In Genesis 4:15, “The LORD said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.” Our God has been a God of grace from the very beginning. What would have been our response to this had we been there? Would you have started a facebook petition against God’s righteous decree? Would you have signed one?
Thou Shall Not Kill
Don’t worry, I’m not arguing that every murderer should be allowed to go free based on the grace of God. The Ten Commandments clearly state, “Thou shalt not kill.” That’s pretty clear and so we should really try to obey that one. And should someone break it, there are consequences no doubt. However, a jury of her peers found Anthony not guilty of murder. Whether she did it, God and she only knows (and maybe her parents). My concern here is that we not be guilty of the same crime we do or don’t believe she is guilty of. Jesus said in His famous Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Jesus likens anger with murder. In other words, unless our anger is righteous (and the general response has not seemed that way), in God’s eyes we are guilty of the same thing we believe Anthony to be guilty of – murder in the first degree. Jesus also said in that sermon, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus is very concerned about your heart, especially your heart’s response to situations like this.
“Vengeance is Mine!”
And so we come full circle to the outrage that has been expressed over those two words, “Not guilty.” Clearly it is a natural reaction of the heart to desire and demand justice. That is probably why Jesus says what He does in the Sermon on the Mount and why Paul says in Romans 12, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We ought to be praying for Casey Anthony and pleading with and for her to repent of her sins, whatever they may be. We as Christians have a righteous responsibility to be angry over what happened to Caylee, but to do it without sinning (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26). We also have a righteous responsibility to forgive our enemies and to desire good for them. What would your reaction be if Casey Anthony announced she recognized her sin, repented and has placed her eternal trust in Jesus for salvation? Would you be comfortable letting her come to your Bible study? Our desire ought to be for her, not against her. And what hope do we have of showing her a loving, merciful God if we are not ourselves loving and merciful?
I mentioned that it is natural for the heart to desire and demand justice. But what is also natural is for the heart to demand it towards others, but not towards itself. Natural does not always mean right. The heart has been known to naturally produce some pretty nasty things (Matthew 15:19). Have we forgotten that should we receive the justice we deserve we would not still be alive? Should God’s justice be poured out on us, we would all be wiped out. But God has shown us much grace, so we should show much grace to others…especially Casey Anthony. We have been forgiven much; therefore we ought now to forgive. (Matthew 6:14, 18:21-22, Colossians 3:13 and perhaps the most stunning example is Luke 23:34).
“How Long, Oh Lord?”
To forgive does not mean to forget and it does not mean remove any and all consequences. But we have our part to play and God has His. Let’s assume for a minute that she is guilty and the justice system failed. It is not now our turn to play role of judge and jury. In Revelation, when the saints who were martyred stood before God’s throne they asked Him, “’O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.” Again we see a desire for justice and what is God’s answer? Wait and rest.
This is our part. To wait and rest and plead with sinners to repent and come to Jesus. To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to reflect His glory to the best of our spirit-empowered ability. To trust that God knows the beginning from the end and will eventually wipe every tear from our eyes and to trust His judgment that those not covered by the blood will receive His righteous indignation.
Revelation describes God’s part. His part is to enact His justice and to have His vengeance. The absolute fury of God’s wrath is described like this in Revelation 14:8 – “…he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” And again in 14:19 – “So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for [about 184 miles.]” Unbelievably scary if you really think about it. God will have his vengeance and His glory will be preserved. That is His part.
We wait and plead and trust God. God will eventually pour out His wrath and have His vengeance on His timing, not ours. Let’s do our part and let God do His.
I’d love to hear what you think. You comments can be posted below…Kevin