This message is to and for ALL of my friends, loved ones, neighbors, acquaintances, haters, and strangers alike regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, socio-economic status, religion, spiritual practice or whatever part of the spectrum of good or bad behavior you may believe you are on:
Bigotry, intolerance, and hatefulness reside on both sides of every fence. I profess to be a Christian, but at times it is a scary prospect and at others it is a shaming prospect, if I only consider what other humans do and say to and about each other in the name of Jesus and God. The thing that concerns me in this present time of ever increasing division and strife in the US and other nations, in this era of expanding economic division and downturn, and in the rush and desire to place the blame on the “other” is that Jesus left us with the directives to love God and love people and to leave judging up to God.
This is most clearly demonstrated when the religious leaders of the day brought the woman “caught in adultery” and tried to get Jesus to pass judgment on her then and there and offer her up for punishment according to Old Testament law. In actuality, they were doing then what many do today, taking it out of context and applying only to one and not to all, because the actual Old Testament law would have had her male partner also brought up for judgment and punishment. All sin is sin, and no one sin is greater than the other, regardless of our human oriented ranking system.
So, Jesus called them on it. “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
One by one all the accusers slipped away until none were left.
Lesson 1) It doesn’t matter who you are, how high or low you are on the hierarchy, at some point in your life you have made or will make a choice, take an action, miss an opportunity or in some kind of way say or do something that is unloving and mean spirited that will be acted out in what is known and understood as sinful behavior. Unlike the human justice system that says we are to be tried by a jury of our peers, God’s justice system says, if we can’t do right in our own lives for our own selves then we don’t have the right to judge another.
What happened next?
“Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No,” was her reply.
“Then neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
She was caught in an act of sinful behavior, yet Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.” He came to save and not condemn. He is the redeemer, the restorer, the bridge between humanity and divine. Yes he gave her a directive to go and sin no more, but he didn’t attach it as a condition to whether or not he was going to condemn her.
Lesson 2) If Jesus isn’t going to condemn a person while they are alive and walking around on this earth and final judgment happens by God at the end of the earth, then NO ONE in the HERE and NOW is CONDEMNED.
New Testament biblical principles for holding one another accountable, in love, is for those who have chosen and decided to join in community with other believers “in Christ”. Going and making disciples of the nations and spreading the good news of Jesus’ restoration and reconciliation, does not happen by pointing fingers, placing blame, and seeking to defend our position to justify why we are right and “they” are wrong, why we are “saved” and “you” are cursed and damned.
Regardless of which side of the matter we fall on, which doctrine or theology we believe, returning spite for spite is the one thing that may have existed in Old Testament governance, but we were directed to leave up to God to avenge our injustices according to what Jesus taught and did. If we call ourselves Christians and claim the name of Jesus, we need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves and continue to heap burning coals on our own heads.