In my last post, we saw how Christian lawyers often think about the process of practicing law: they can traverse the difficult ethical terrain of practice using scripture and Christ as a guide, but fall into resignation when answers to difficult questions remain far off.
The next area of exploration, and I feel the one less often engaged, is summed up by a question posed earlier: “What would Jesus Practice?”
Some may see this as a fruitless question. “Christ was Christ,” you say, “and I am me. I am situated in a particular place and time with a calling where Christ is not.” But this question is still useful. It is informed by looking at Christ’s earthly ministry and squaring my priorities, desires and values according to his example of self-giving love. Our goal is not exacting emulation, but incarnation—letting Christ live out in the world through me in whatever context I find myself. Continue reading
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
-Romans 8:11 (NIV)
Last week I posed the questions “What Would Jesus Practice?” and “How Would Jesus Practice?” In this post I first wanted to address another vital one:
What kind of lawyer does God living-in-me lead me to be?
For a long time I thought the best approach to life was trying to model Christ’s life exactly. Many positive things can come from doing so. But this view of incarnational ministry led me to legalism and self-righteousness when left unchecked.
A friend, another lawyer, helped provide that check. She reminded me of something vital, worth remembering year-round and especially around Easter:
God lives in us. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. And he is moving and changing us and the world around us. Continue reading
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
For too long we’ve measured ourselves against the standard of the reasonable Christian Lawyer.
This is used much like the “reasonable person” standard. For those readers who may be unfamiliar with first-year torts or contracts classes, the reasonable person is a legal fiction employed to assess the reasonableness of a person’s conduct under a set of circumstances. There is no flesh and blood “reasonable person”; it’s an average, imagined vision of a faceless, ageless, genderless blob at the heart of judging things like a person’s negligence.
Here’s an example:
Hypo: Would a reasonable person down a beer while operating a fork lift on an interstate?
Answer: No. To do so would be a breach of his duty of care to those around him.
And there you have it.
Now, I’ve seen similar use of the reasonable Christian lawyer standard:
Hypo: Would the reasonable Christian lawyer lie in court, rip off a client, or get someone off the hook that they know is guilty?
Answer: Easy. No. To do so would not comport with the conduct to which Christ calls us.
And that’s where the standard is usually used. It helps us rule out heinous (or mildly unsavory) professional conduct that chafes against our sense of Christian propriety. While it can help our moral reasoning, it has some serious failings. Continue reading