I want to tell you about the time I fought the law… and won.
When we first moved to Dallas – almost a decade ago now!, we lived in Mesquite, just a block down from an elementary school. That meant that the main road past our neighborhood was in a school zone.
Which I forgot one day.
I pulled out onto our main road and was going 30mph – under the speed limit. Except this was during school hours and I’d forgotten I was in a school zone. I got pulled over and was issued a very expensive ticket.
I was irritated in part because the city didn’t post warnings on our street… the School Zone signs were posted on the main road, but when I turned onto that road, I was already inside the School Zone, so there were no signs to remind me to slow down.
I decided to plead my case and throw myself on the mercy of the court. To prepare, I took pictures of the school zone signs and our road, printed them all out and took them to my court date. When I stood before the judge, I started to plead my case, but he waved me off and said, “This is just to enter a plea.”
I said I wanted to plead ‘Not Guilty’, so he marked that down and told me I would be issued a court date. A couple of weeks later, I got a letter in the mail that the city had dropped my case.
I shouldn’t have been as disappointed as I was.
But I wanted to plead my case. I wanted to demonstrate to the judge that I hadn’t intentionally violated the school zone speed limit. I’m a big fan of those – and the idea of keeping kids safe more generally. I wanted to ask for mercy because I hadn’t broken the law on purpose. I didn’t even realize the law was there, in effect.
Making that sort of exception isn’t outside the power of a judge. In fact, it is exactly this sort of ruling that warms our spirits, a ruling that says, thought you technically violated a law, we don’t believe this was your intention, so we’re not going to hold you guilty.
I raise this example because we’re going to talk about Hell today, and specifically the people who never have the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus. It doesn’t make sense to us that God would send such persons to Hell. That doesn’t align with our sense of justice, our sense of mercy or our sense of love.
Could it be that our senses are right here? Could it be that God’s mercy is more expansive than we’ve been told? Could God’s love be bigger than we we imagine? I say yes. So I want to begin this morning by celebrating that love with you.