It seems that very few of us want to learn to be an effective juror. In fact, when you Google the topic of being on a jury, many of the tips you'll find have to do with how to get out of being a juror.
Why do we seem to hate this responsibility so much that we might even lie to get out of it?
I believe there are several factors, but two of them are big ones.
Before I go on, there's an ancient book where the historians that compiled it announced specifically to whom their writings were directed. I'm going to follow that tradition and state that this post is directed first toward our family, each and every one of them: our children, grandchildren, and beyond in the coming years. May they all be good jurors in the biggest matter of judgment that will ever come before them.
I don't mind if the rest of the world reads this too. The matter before each of us is the most consequence-laden we will ever face. The decision each of us makes affects not only ourselves, but our entire family, possibly for generations to come. The matter on trial is this:
Is there a God, a Creator, a Father of us all, who made a plan so brilliant, so inclusive, so just, and peppered with so much mercy and love and joy, that each and every person can, not only come to know about it for themselves, but experience the incredible benefits in their life now? The plan includes the option, the agency, the choice for anyone to choose to receive ALL the goodness built into the plan OR reject the plan and instead choose a lesser option. What do you think?
Each and every person is called to jury duty over this matter. It can't be decided by your parents, your grandparents, your spouse, your friends, your attorney, your guru, your prophet, your news pundit, or any other human you might turn to for good advice. In fact when it comes to this particular case, many of those people might even give you bad advice based on THEIR judgment of the matter. Human advice is actually only part of the equation here.
Do you believe in God? Why or why not? Have you done your responsible due diligence on the matter OR taken the irresponsible "get me out of jury duty" approach? I mean have you either avoided the research or just listened to whatever your crowd believed about it? Following the crowd is an option, but a horrible one.
Let's discuss what a good juror might do in any court. I'm going to suggest four major things.
As I mentioned before, I believe most of us hate jury duty so much because it takes sacrifice, time, and effort. It also leads to consequences for which most of us don't want to be responsible! It affects people,,, for better or worse.
The existence of God is the main topic here. The plan of God I referred to earlier is a much more complex topic and, so far, I've found no end of new material to add to what I already have learned to be true by my own jury duty.
THERE'S A WAY TO MAKE THIS EASIER
Where do we go for evidence about the existence of God? There are too many to write about in one blog post, but I'll try and list what I think are the most important ones.
Testimony given by those who have had interaction with God. These are written so they won't be lost over time. Sadly, most people don't take the time to study them, even though they are a KEY piece of evidence in this case.. They treat religious writings as if they were a long legal contract when installing new software. They fail to read the fine print (yet are still legally bound by it if they use that product).
In reality, the fine print is critically important to this case. I'm suggesting you read and study the written words of another person's interactions with God.
People around us often tell of their experiences with God. How do you receive their testimony? Do you brush it off as just another religious nut telling their beliefs or do you carefully consider the matter? We're responsible for what we do with that evidence, either way.
RESULTS OF SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTATION
Jesus Christ came as a witness of God's existence and told one of the methods by which someone could know if the things he taught were from God the Father or from him, He said;
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
So we jurors are not only responsible to read the words and listen to the spoken testimony of the witnesses, but we're additionally responsible to put the words to the test. Christ suggested we DO those things. It may require us to change the way we live to be in line with what these witnesses say is God's will.
This is usually physical evidence -- stuff that can be seen or touched or interacted with on a physical level. Sometimes we have to use physical instruments to detect the things too small or quiet or (whatever) to be detected with our physical senses.
The very planet we live on is an amazing piece of creation. Do you believe that? I've studied quite a bit of science over the years and the more evidence that accumulates, the more it becomes impossible for me to fathom that this all came together by random acts. There are plenty of top class scientists who have come to this same conclusion.
But you are your own juror. You get to decide whether you'll dig into these matters or not. Please take the time to listen to scientists on both sides of the ledger. And remember, the evidence is still coming in.
These ideas are far from complete. I'm still doing my own jury duty and continually weigh the evidence.
The case I've suggested here is unlike something that occurs in a normal court of law. In a regular court case, we get to hear ALL the evidence anyone can find in a finite chunk of time, and then head toward deliberations and make our verdict that will stand forever (unless we've buggered it up and there is an appeal with an overturning of our incorrect verdict).
In this case the evidence continues to flow in. There is WAY too much for us to ever hear or experience it all. But we are a juror on this matter whether we want to accept jury duty or not. I'm suggesting we all stay vigilant and render an "ongoing verdict."
AGAIN, LET'S MAKE THIS AS EASY AS POSSIBLE
There are several pieces of evidence that are more key than others and will make this responsibility easier. In fact one of these is a secret weapon to know all truth about the matter.
God said to Amos, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." That's the testimony of Amos. If you believe him, look for prophets both past and present. Yep, I said present. They didn't all end with the Bible. You can order a free copy of the Bible here where it actually tells there will be more words from God to come beyond the Bible.
After reading what ancient prophets said, be sure to get a KEY PIECE OF EVIDENCE --the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. You can read part of what he said here. He said he experienced a conversation with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It's a key piece of evidence I believe no responsible juror should ever ignore. Every word. Read the fine print.
Then read the products of Joseph Smith's life. He said he was asked to translate ancient records engraved on metal plates into English. That's a tough call for a guy who had almost no formal education. Instead, Joseph testified that he did NOT do it by himself and was only able to do so "by the gift and power of God."
When he says that, do you believe it or do you doubt? You're a responsible juror (again, whether you like that fact or not). Have you done your due diligence about that piece of evidence? Have you read his translation of those plates? It's called the Book of Mormon and it's available for almost the entire world to evaluate as it's since been translated into most languages.
The Book of Mormon is available online here. For smaller devices you can download the Gospel Library App here. If you'd rather have your own printed copy in your own language, you can order a free copy here. It goes hand-in-hand with the Bible as evidence of the existence of God. It also clarifies the incredible plans of God for our lives.
When it comes to experimenting with the evidence to see whether the words are from God or not, you'll be glad to know there's the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other written scriptures for all to evaluate. I suggest that any good juror in this matter would read and study the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
If you didn't know all those sources existed as a juror, you do now, and you are responsible to base your decision on what's written in them. More so, you are responsible to experiment with the testimonies you find there. But there's more.
There are living prophets and apostles of God on earth today. Now! As in NOT historical! Will you evaluate their witness? You can easily do so for everything they teach. There are live conferences twice a year broadcast to the whole world. They're recorded and available in video, audio, or writing -- so choose your preference.
Unless your language isn't included in the translations, you are left without excuse if you choose not to diligently evaluate this evidence in your personal verdict on the existence of God. I can't emphasize your responsibility here enough.
And finally, the SECRET WEAPON in knowing how to cast your vote on the existence of God. He communicates to us through His spirit, the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. Do you believe that? Put it to the test. Here's the promise written in the last part of the historical and spiritual records called the Book of Mormon.
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
That last line is the secret weapon. God is not a genie in a bottle who answers our capricious or whimsical questions. He requires effort. Effort to remember His goodness to us people of the planet. Effort to evaluate the evidence presented.
And especially the effort to ASK him (pray) "with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." God promises that He will tell you the truth "by the power of the Holy Ghost."
I've tested that promise and it's real. I have had it revealed to me by the power of the Holy Ghost about the reality of God and His incredible plans for each one of us. Sadly, I didn't do so well with it in teaching it to my children earlier in life. They grew up not knowing how strongly I understand these principles now. But I've changed as I've learned more.
You as a juror can not avoid your responsibility in this matter any more than I could. Like installing software without reading the fine print of the legal agreement, you are still held responsible for everything in that agreement when you choose to use that product. Now that you know the things I've suggested you read, you are responsible for what's written there whether you read it or not. You are using the product (life).
And, like me, what you do with it will not only affect your life, but those you love, especially your children, and their children as they make their own choices. Please be a responsible juror on this most important task of life.
And once you find that God exists and loves you beyond anything you can imagine, use the same resources to discover the incredible options He offers. I live in gratitude every day I was fortunate enough to hear these things and that I was (and continue to be) a responsible enough juror to give the whole thing serious consideration. My life is so SO much better because I continue to read, and experiment with, the fine print. And it helps to try and be tuned in as much as possible to the frequency on which the Holy Spirit broadcasts.
If you're like most people, one day or week or year(s) your life will be painfully difficult. Emphasis on PAIN. It might become so painful that you consider things such as the use of mind-altering substances. You might become deeply depressed. You might overeat or put anything in your mouth to relieve your pain. You might feel unworthy of love and sabotage every good relationship you have. You might become an amoral jerk for a time. You might consider suicide. Anything to relieve your mental or emotional pain.
If you think I'm preaching from my soap box AT you instead of being present WITH you, please consider that I've been there done that with most of the things on the list in that last paragraph. I won't explain which ones, but I've had PAIN. Years worth of mental/emotional pain. I've had a life with parts that were so crazy that several people have strongly suggested I write a book. I'm not ready for that yet, but I've started by writing this blog. You can read a little about me here if you're interested.
The point I want to make here about PAIN is that I've experienced it, I've lived it, and I've survived it. If you haven't yet had this kind of emotional/mental pain,, you likely will. Sorry, that's life, and these things CAN lead us to better things, if we'll let them.
The things I write about in this blog are the incredibly good solutions to those problems I described two paragraphs ago. If your life becomes too painful for you to deal with by any means that you currently know, try being a good juror about one more thing. Ask God not only if He exists, but ask Him if He loves you. Ask Him to send people or experiences in your life that will reveal HIS hand. Remember sincerity, real intent, and faith in Christ.
There's never been a promise of no pain in life, but there is a promise of peace, the kind of peace that is almost indescribable and unexplainable to those who have never been through the processes I've described here. I promise peace of mind and peace of your heart are available to you. If you've experienced them, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, please be brave enough to ASK your Heavenly Father for it. He'll answer.