Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Lesson from John

 John 8: 1-11  Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” 6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. 9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Where are the accusers? Where are they? Can they condemn you now? No? Neither will I.

Why isn't this our response to people in the midst of their sins? Hmm here's a thought, Jesus was perfect- he had every reason to be judgmental, we are sinful- we have every reason to be empathetic (been-there-done-that, got the postcard). So the person who had every right to be judgmental is gracious, and we who have every reason to be understanding are unforgiving. Why are we the accusers? What makes us think we have the right to expose someone else's sin when we have all been the cold, dirty, naked, mortified woman in the street facing destitution and certain death that were mercifully spared?

Romans 3: 23-24  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

OH MY, what more glorious hope do we have than that?! We are all unworthy and sinful-YET we have been called righteous! I have a friend that is one of the most interesting and honest persons I've met and she was telling me about her adulterous woman and accusers experience with one of the communities she was in. She told me about the hurtful things these people, that are believers, were doing and saying. She was so incredibly honest with them about her struggle with homosexuality and they dragged her out in the street, they ridiculed her, exposed her, and were ready to throw rocks at her. She told me of the hurtful, condescending things they said and did- and I was fuming! "Oh, so you're blameless-- go ahead, throw it then" I thought. As she told me how she felt like she couldn't be herself anymore in christian communities, I wanted to have these people hung! THAT is not at all a reflection of Christ, granted sin is nothing to be proud of and we are called out of darkness but we have no reason to treat each other that way. No sin is acceptable, but no sin has gone unpaid for...and I am not exempt from this truth either. It hit me (about mid rant) that I wasn't just casting stones- I was CATAPULTING BOULDERS!

WHAT AM I DOING RIGHT NOW?!

James 4: 11-12 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

What's my job? TO OBEY! My job is to let the Lord be sovereign and to handle these things. I have to be honest and say there are times when I hate this truth and my responsibility in it. I don't want to obey and I definitely don't want to let these people walk away continuing to do the same hurtful things. I want to speak evil of the evil, I want to bring justice to the poor and weak, I want to be Jesus.

You know there is a part of this story I find to be interesting and really important and its only part of a sentence. It's so small I think there is a reason we miss it a lot but I know there is a reason it is there too...vs 9, look at it again. See it? It's not the beginning, It's not the end, it isn't the part about Jesus writing in the sand, (which in my opinion, we sometimes tend to focus way more on what he might have written vs the entire account that was written down) it's the middle. "Beginning with the oldest" 

I think that is so subtle but I know its there for a purpose, God didn't have to have to slip that in, the story would've been great without it. Here's my thought, I think God is giving us a tiny, baby, molecule size hint of how the maturing process works. I am 23 years old, my experience includes high school, 5 years of college, and summer camps, but one thing I have noticed (and is really obvious and doesn't need to be said) is that as I get older I become more and more aware of my own sin and more and more open to Christ leading me far, far away from them. Clearly the whole story is one example of our humanness. It's also an example of our failure to realize when we are in the presence of holiness because we have our own objectives; while simultaneously being a story of Christ's grace and his ability to take the focus off us and on to Him and his glory. So, in my immaturity, I think I can be God by being the supreme judge when really I can't AND that is not the example that Christ has set at ALL.He has set the example of what humble obedience looks like (and it's obvi that his method is MUCH more effective)

[Side note- when did I forget that I AM THIS WOMAN! I am sooooo sinful, I have been the one exposed and embarrassed and GUILTY. I am the woman who has stolen away the love of someone else's husband, I am the one who has betrayed my betrothed- who has proven myself untrustworthy, who seeks love in the wrong places. I am the one who disregards all the truths I know. I AM the one dirty from the inside out. I am nothing like the Great I AM...]

Moral of the story, God is good, Brittany is not. Ha ha, not really. Well Yes, that is true, but not the point. Here is the point...

 Hebrews 10:22-26 "Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."

Psalm 9:9-10 "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
   a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
   for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Jesus doesn't need me to defend the weak, he doesn't need me to judge the evil. He is our refuge from each other and from ourselves and He can be trusted. Short and sweet. He has promised to be our defender, our representative, our honor and justice, our freedom, our promise of redemption and completion.He is my friend's voice, and I must go into his presence with a sincere heart fully trusting that he will speak truth in her life that will commit her ways, that he will speak truth in the people's lives who persecute her, and he will speak truth into my life that shed's light on MY darkness. My desire to be God is COMPLETELY misguided and sinful. God is not looking to fill his position. I am not needed for that, but I do know that I am wanted by him. Wanted enough to die for. Wanted enough for God to share his truth with. Wanted enough that I have been promised all my heart's desires. Wanted enough to be forgiven every time I pick up a stone. And I am just as wanted as the people I persecute...

Ouch. This is where I put my brick down and walk away; where I follow the ones that are wiser than I...


Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, Neither do I. Go and sin no more...”

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