Romans 3:23-24 (NASB)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;”
Why is this so hard to remember? I fall occasionally in this trap, although, praise God it is less and less. We want to jump every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, and Jane that has some problem that is considered ‘sin.’ From the feelings of others and from what I keep encountering, I think this notion of judging and condemning needs to be brought up.
Paul says that we are to, if possible, get along with every person.
Romans 12:18 (NASB)
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
“All men,” means all people who are of a different religious persuasion than ourselves, and people who may have different lifestyle choices, not just homosexuals, but people who don’t think marriage means much of anything anymore. Now before you go thinking that I have slipped off the narrow path, let me assure you, I hate the sin, but not the sinner. I can say, that this behavior is wrong, don’t do it because I care about you and love you. Bottom line is that I can still love the person and despise their behavior.
I want you to keep that verse in Romans in mind as you make your way through this article. I especially want you to keep in mind the first 4 words, “For all have sinned…” You, me, the bum on the street, Bill Gates, Charlie Sheen, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham… See the Bible says there is no good person, no not one. But we pick out people, “yardstick people,” to whom we compare ourselves. We like to be able to say that we aren’t as bad as they are.
Logically then, we will surround ourselves with like minded and like behaved people and convince ourselves that we as Christians then, need to go out and save “THOSE” sinners over there. You have basically, just turned into a Pharisee. Pharisees were those wonderful law keeping Jewish people in the New Testament that Christ said were full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness, that was KJV speak.
He basically called them ‘grave holes.’ How’s that for God cussing? He liked the word ‘vipers’ too, by the way. I promise I am going to fight hard to stay on topic and wrap this up quickly, but you know how that goes. What I want to focus on is the following “Did Jesus send us out into the world to confront non-Christians with love, compassion and understanding, or through a “take the kingdom of God and ram it down people’s throats” approach? History note: The crusades were not that successful.
When I think about this subject, my mind always goes to the story about Jesus and the adulterous woman. So let’s take a look at this story.
John 8:1-11 (NASB) The Adulterous Woman
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5“Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either Go From now on sin no more.”
Let’s break this down. Jesus is out and about on a typical morning walk to the Mount of Olives and then He’s headed off to teach. He arrives at the temple, and here come the Elders and Deacons…. I mean the Scribes and Pharisees. You can take a look at the layout of this place. Check this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Traza-z.jpg
Can’t you just see this and the looks on their faces as they are dragging this woman into the temple. It just makes me wonder how long have they been lying in wait to grab this ‘adulterous woman’? Who came up with this plan? As they make their way to Jesus, can’t you just hear those deep religious tones in their voices while they are speaking.
“Jesus, look. We have caught this woman in adulterous actions with a man.”
Of course it doesn’t really say it was a man does it? Hmmm… think on that one for a bit.
Anyway… LOL….. those that know me and Doc Scott can see the look in my eye right now and the grin on my face… LOL! Anyway… this needs to be an audio/video session doesn’t it?
Ok, I’m good. So, this woman has been caught, an hour ago? Yesterday? A week? OH NO! In the very act it says… My pastor used to say put flesh and blood on the Bible and don’t look at it as just some story. Can you see this? This pack of guys glued to whoever’s house or building this is taking place in. Here are all these guys at the door, or maybe downstairs. And then they burst in, and I’m sure since this was the Bible, and it is “G rated” she’s fully clothed, (that was sarcasm) and then they grab her and drag her out of bed over to the temple…
This makes me pause here. Put yourself in her shoes, and this should make you a little sad, but I guess they gave her clothes, it doesn’t really say, and then drag her over to the temple for Jesus to behold. They don’t just call him over in the corner, but they drop her out in the center of the temple for everyone in there to see. Now if we are comparing thoughts and deeds, come on, these guys have been laying in wait for this, you know they have. Wonderful upstanding pillars of the community we are dealing with here in this story, aren’t they?
And now they are calling for blood. Moses says STONE her!
There’s a popular song, a year or so back I think, with the following message. Look up Hillsong’s Mighty to Save on YouTube.
“Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior…”
What does this story say, and then what’s the song say? Man cries out for vengeance and blood, and Christ gives and calls to us to show compassion and forgiveness.
So someone out there please tell me how shouting down at someone for being Gay, or gossiping about church members having affairs, or shouting at women having an abortion makes you like Jesus. Huh!?! Let’s at least give these Pharisees credit, they didn’t hide their feelings. So come on and be honest with yourself.
“Haven’t you ever been that mad?”
I know this is coming. He…heck yes I have. But that has nothing to do with this. That doesn’t make it right, and I know it’s wrong. That’s where grace comes in. It covers my boneheadedness. Should we ask, “What Would the Pharisees Do?” That’s easy, STONE THEM ON THE SPOT! That’s what the Pharisees would do.
“Well I…I never.”
Sure you do. Everyone has flashes of anger, but thank God He’s working on me. Look at the news though. Bombing abortion clinics in the name of Jesus. Shooting abortion doctors in the name of Jesus.
“For the love of God and those babies we killed people.”
Yeah, I really see Jesus is right there with you on that one.
“Oh blessed Holy Angels come purify the air! Shawn’s gone looney.”
Lest you misunderstand me, I am not saying to go stone anyone, nor am I condoning abortions. What I want you to think about and start understanding is that we are to take the gospel to a dying world teaching about the forgiveness and the love of Christ, and I don’t think you do that with a rifle and explosives.
This woman is center court. Men all around just waiting for Jesus to do something “stupid” in their eyes, because they are ready to pounce. Now pray tell, find for me in scripture where Jesus trashes this woman? Did he say, “This woman is a “whore” and needs to be stoned.”
No, Christ calmly gets up. He’s not shouting and screaming and ranting. He looks at them, eye to eye and says if you are without sin, throw your stone. Then he stoops back down and starts messing in the dirt.
Again, no ranting and no railing about that trampy home wrecker, like you would hear in the coffee shoppe, there is nothing but silence. It says that one by one they left, the older ones first. That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it. Whatever Jesus was scribbling in that dirt sure made them think long and hard and then head for the exits. Maybe it was something to do with their lives, a life of experience or sin, because we are all sinners, but they are heading for the doors first. Eventually He stands back up and talks to this woman.
Put yourself in her shoes: alone, despised, on display for the masses to see. My guess, she’s as scared as you could possibly be. Why? THEY WANTED TO KILL HER!!! Is that sinking in?
I just want to point out that to have an affair, there has to be another person, and there is no man anywhere around in this picture, nor a woman. So that to me speaks volumes as well. This was either a very sexist group of priests or they knowingly set this woman up. Because from what I have seen, you are not very good at this whole affair thing if you get caught. That’s not in the scripture, and just my mere speculation.
Anyway, she is eye to eye with Jesus, and he looks at her and asks her, where’d they go, and no one threw a stone? This woman doesn’t get smart with him, nor indignant, and it doesn’t say she started weeping or anything. She simply says no. And Jesus’ response was, I don’t condemn you either, just don’t do this again.
How does this story not make you fall to your knees and say, “Thank you God for your grace. I’m glad you could forgive a sinner like me.” And it’s this forgiveness that we are to extend to our brothers and sisters.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NASB)
31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Paul calls himself the “Chiefest of all Sinners.” I don’t think you can meet Jesus and not come to that point. If you never have, then I wonder if you have ever really internalized the Bible’s message. We are all sorts of messed up and only Jesus Christ can fix us.
John 3:16-17 (NASB)
16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
We are supposed to be showing compassion and mercy to people and leading them to Christ, not condemning people to Hell. We are all this adulterous woman. All it takes is a lustful glance and you too deserved to be stoned. But thanks be to Jesus we stand uncondemned and clean. And when we do fall, which WE ALL do, God’s grace and mercy is there to pick us back up and His spirit is there to guide us along if we would just let it.
To everyone, all sorts of GRACE, unmerited favor, because there is nothing you can do to deserve it or earn it, and PEACE, cessation of againstness, God is no longer your enemy and is not against you, to you.