Up until about 6 weeks ago, I would not have been able to identify the person in this picture. While in the tire section waiting room at Wal-Mart (because of this incident), I noticed the TV was turned to a live court case, and that was my introduction to Casey Anthony. What was then and now a national news story had, by virtue or our relocation to Florida, become a local story as well. I could go down town at any time and see the news crews crowded outside the courthouse first hand.
Had I wanted to, I could have been there when Casey Anthony walked free yesterday. I didn’t really have a good reason to, so for the most part it was just a normal Sunday for me (except for going to Vitality as part of this). I did spend some time thinking though earlier in the week about the symbolism of Casey Anthony walking free and how that relates to what we believe about the Christian gospel. Here are some obvious continuities, as well as some discontinuities:
- Like Casey Anthony, we stood condemned before a judge for sins we committed
- Like Casey Anthony, we were found not guilty in that courtroom and given a freedom we didn’t deserve
- Like Casey Anthony, we found ourselves with a status that didn’t match our track record
- Unlike Casey Anthony, we didn’t get off because the prosecution went for a charge it couldn’t prove
- Unlike Casey Anthony, we weren’t just declared not guilty, the Son of the judge took our punishment knowing our guilt
- Unlike Casey Anthony, we weren’t just given freedom from jail and possible death, we were given a means to walk in newness of life
I’m sure we could think of more similarities and dissimilarities, these are really just a start. Though the analogy breaks down if you push it too far, I think it can be instructive for us to see ourselves in Casey Anthony’s place. Whether or not it was proven in a court of law, most people consider her responsible for Caylee’s death. I don’t think many of us have chloroformed our kid so that we could go party (see pic), but we have all hated someone in our heart before and John considers that no different than murder (1 John 3:15). It is tempting to look down on Casey and see a villain when in reality we are just seeing a person just like us, desperately in need of love and grace. What Casey did was irresponsible and stupid, and I’m sure she would take it back if she could. Even if she feels no genuine remorse, that doesn’t negate her need for grace and for Christians to show love to someone most everyone else hates.Having moved to Orlando, Casey is now in some sense my neighbor. Given the opportunity, I should show her grace and love since I am one has received grace and been loved. Were she to walk into our church one Sunday, as our pastor pointed out, she shouldn’t be treated any differently than any other visitor. We struggle though with wanting to be Christ-like to her because her being set free offends our sense of justice. Ultimately though, someone will be punished for what Casey did. Either Jesus suffered and died for her sin and she will one day come to saving faith, or she will suffer for it in eternity. As Christians, we can’t look forward to the latter, but should instead pray that it turns out to be the former. The temptation is to hope that she is the one to suffer her sin, but when the tables are turn, we never secretly wish we could suffer for our own sin. We are grateful there was someone who died on our behalf, but sometimes it is hard to hope that someone who has done something like this would get the same opportunity.
At least that’s what I think…what about you?