Reviewed by Brent Amato
Some books seek to educate, some books seek to energize, some books seek to equip, some books seek to engage. Jesus in the Courtroom, written by John Mauck, Christian lawyer and advocate, and published by Moody Press, seeks to do all four and excellently accomplishes this mission.
Though written by a lawyer with much to say to lawyers, this book has universal application to all believers, who are facing increasingly problematic and complex challenges.
What is most compelling is that John goes beyond excellent prose to presenting a “path” for his readers to join him on a journey he has been traveling for a long time-a path with bright signposts along the way for Christ-followers who want to participate in fighting for justice and mercy in our culture and society at large and more specifically in the legal system. The path is an attractive amalgamation of biblical scholarship and flesh and blood experience, including his own. You will be reading a book that is John’s strong personal conviction and John’s life.
Let’s further examination John’s fourfold accomplished mission in Jesus in the Courtroom:
1. To educate.
John starts by examining Jesus Himself and placing Him in an unusual arena. While Christ-followers accept that Jesus’ proper role should be first place in everything, how often is He placed in today’s courtrooms? We are reminded that Jesus [and the Holy Spirit, an “another just like Jesus" (John 14:16)] are “counselors” in the truest sense of the word. Jesus is presented as not only a spiritual guide, but also a law professor, legal advisor, lawyer, advocate and strategist who taught, debated, corrected and rebuked the lawyers, judges, law students, politicians and law professors of His day. John demonstrates that one of Jesus’ priorities was to explain the Law and its purpose, exemplify God’s justice and mercy, and impact legal professionals and systems of His days. John argues that today’s lawyers and their work need to be seen in the same light.
We’re shown Biblical heroes of the faith (e.g. Moses) and the New Testament Apostle Paul who functioned in many ways as lawyers. The Bible is portrayed as an expression of who God is and a revelation of how He wants our world to function and challenging our attitude toward it. We’re introduced to Christian legal organizations (eg, Christian Legal Society, Alliance Defending Freedom, Advocates International) showing us the way down the path, Federal laws and court cases lighting the correct way down the path and obstacles facing lawyers, which unfortunately provide potholes and detours on the path.
2. To energize.
The book is highly inspirational. He extols us to recognize that no one is too limited by background, capacity, skill or circumstances not to have an impact on the legal system for God’s glory and the advancement of His kingdom. He addresses the discouraged, fearful and frozen, and encourages them to have a renewed determination to impact our nation’s legal system. He recites numerous personal stories of Christian lawyers and churches and of miracles fueled by prayer. He exhorts us to love and serve God in the midst of trials, to confront and overcome evil. He defines what real victory looks like in this battleground and gives specific examples. He ends the book with this exhortation: “ Let us remain joyful and hopeful in both victory and defeat. For we know what is partial today will one day be complete. What is left unfinished on the earth, including in our courtrooms, will one day be made right. ‘Look, I am coming soon!’ Jesus says. ‘My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.’ (Revelation 22:12) Amen and amen!”
3. To equip.
Never before has the Church more needed to be equipped (Ephesians 4:12-16). The book offers clear vision for how to move forward, practical and creative ways to use our gifts in the legal realm and even some new strategies. John is opening our minds and hearts to new paths, to become defenders, rescuers and restorers on individual and corporate levels, paths on which we can walk with Jesus using God’s Law and human law to defeat evil and win hearts for God. Moving from theory to practice, John’s pragmatism shines with a discussion on the legal arena affecting children and five related issues. John even suggests a model prayer to offer up as we wrestle with our place in serving God’s kingdom. Our spiritual resources can be paired with tools and resources used by Godly lawyers to accomplish great things for God’s causes and kingdom.
4. To engage.
Lest anyone miss it, one loses track of the number of times you read the words “engage” or “engagement.” John is looking for activists that will be “doers of the Word and not merely hearers…” (James 1:22).
In his last chapter, John asks the important question every Christ-follower should ask when confronted with truth and a challenge: Now What? We, like John, must respond in some way. Whether it be from the Old Testament prophet, Micah (“…And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”- Micah 6:8) or from one of the first New Testament members of the universal Christian Legal Society, Paul (“For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works,…that we should walk in them”-Ephesians 2:10), John engages us to engage and join him.
Are you looking for opportunities to build God’s kingdom? Are you looking for lessons on how it’s done? Are you looking for real life examples of what it looks like? Are you looking for a good and right journey on a good and right path? Whether lawyer or not, join Jesus in the courtroom of life. Open the book and start reading!
Brent Amato is former president of Christian Legal Society National and current staff member focusing on attorney and law student ministries.
Posted on Tue, July 4, 2017
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