There's a story from the bible of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. She was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees who were always trying to trap Him so that they could have a reason to accuse Him. The story is found in John Chapter 8 Let it first be said that these men who brought this woman before Jesus had NO interest in the woman's well being nor in True Justice.
The law that the Pharisees were to follow was that BOTH the man and the woman were actually supposed to be brought to be stoned. Since the woman was "caught in the act"... where was the man? I do believe also by that time, stoning was outlawed without a trial because of "Roman Law"...
According to Old Testament Law:
Don't think I feel I have escaped it myself. I am still working on killing my inner Pharisee... but just like an Alcoholic, the first step is to realize that you HAVE the problem.
Here is the story:
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Often times when I have talked or blogged about the need for compassion and Love and a less "rebuking and discipline" for people who are caught in various "sins"... the FIRST thing people will bring up to me (and please note: I have brought this up myself in the past) is Jesus' telling the woman to "GO, AND LEAVE HER LIFE OF SIN!"
As if that whole story was about Jesus saying, "Yes... I give you mercy and unconditional Love and I'm telling all these dorks to just worry about their OWN sin... but really, my main message is that you better NEVER sin again!" I just really don't read that in the context! Please remember that the word "sin" has it's roots in "missing the mark" like an arrow not hitting the Target. I'm pretty sure we're ALL in that boat! If you read the rest of John Chapter 8 you see that pretty much what follows are the "RELIGIOUS LEADERS" trying to discredit Jesus because they did NOT like His ways or His claims about Himself.
Here is my point and the Hope in this little blog. I really believe that His statement of "Go and leave your life of sin" was a BLESSING and a PROMISE to this beautiful woman whom He LOVED. He told her that, because He, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, would give her the power to do so. She was going to be ABLE to make changes in her life that would bring her JOY and LIFE ABUNDANT! You do remember that this is why Jesus said He came, right? He said this many times and showed it in many ways...
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the FULL.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my LOVE, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his LOVE. 11 I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete. 12 My command is this: LOVE EACH OTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU! ~John 15
We see Jesus interact with notorious "sinners" all throughout the Gospel stories. Jesus Himself was called a "glutton and a drunkard." Luke 7:34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
Jesus was NEVER the same exact way with any of them. He was often criticized for hanging out with them. Our Jesus really appears to be into "personal relationships"... Sometimes he told them "your sins are forgiven you" without even requiring some sort of "repentance or confession". Just one example would be the Samaritan Woman that Jesus met at the well and decided to reveal to HER that He WAS the Messiah she had been waiting for! He didn't tell her to "go and sin no more." He made her a missionary!!! How about that woman with the really bad reputation that anointed His feet with her hair? He only told her that her "sins were forgiven, her faith saved her and to go in Peace." (Luke 7: 36-50) and AGAIN... the Pharisees wanted to concentrate on her SIN!
Other times He said things as harsh as... "you are healed, but be careful or something WORSE may happen to you!" (John 5:14) I have a feeling the man He said THAT to, knew EXACTLY what Jesus was referring to... YIKES.
Jesus, and ONLY Jesus can ever help us with our struggles against things that we often choose to do that make our life unbearable. (sins) I am not saying that we need to not help people who desire our help when they are struggling with poor life choices... but I AM saying that making the Christian life all about "getting rid of sin" or "pointing out sin in others" and making that the main focus, is truly... MISSING THE MARK.
I heard a sermon once where a woman came to the Pastor because her life was in shambles. I'm assuming it was someone with a pretty dysfunctional life. She realized she needed Jesus in her life and the Pastor was about to have her say the "sinners prayer" (this is a prayer that was started mainly by the Billy Graham movement to invite Jesus into your heart. Nothing wrong with that at all!) HOWEVER... here is what the Pastor said to this woman... and I quote,
"You need to know what this is... by praying this prayer you are agreeing to do EVERY THING that Jesus asks you to do for the rest of your life! Are you REALLY ready to do that?"
Wow... really? This is what the bible teaches?? I get it... basically this Pastor wanted to know that she had a "truly repentant heart" and that she was going to make "Jesus her LORD" in her life. Here are some problems I have with this line of thinking... #1 The pastor is NOT Jesus. #2 Repentance is not a WORK unto salvation. (See Eph 2:8,9 and the WHOLE book of Galatians as well as ALL OVER the New Testament) #3 How can you POSSIBLY make Jesus LORD? He IS LORD... it is why we Trust in Him! #4 How can you POSSIBLY do EVERY THING He tells you to do??? #5 If you COULD do everything He tells you to (even most of the time) why did Jesus come and die for the sins of the world? #6 What happens to this woman when she goes back to some of her "dysfunctional ways" and gets rejected by the "good church people" and then feels that God has rejected her? Is THAT the message of the Gospel??
When I think of this story I think of Jesus calling the Pharisees, Blind Guides. (See Mathew Chap 23) People are leaving the church in droves because of the way that it's presented, that once you get your "act together" THEN, you are truly a "good Christian" and that is what Christianity is ALL ABOUT.... I think that is a false message. Again, read Galatians if you don't believe me... I think this is a dangerous message. It's actually called "witchcraft" in Galatians. Galatians 3:1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
This message is JUST as dangerous as believing that you can trust Christ and just do whatever you want... I would dare to say, possibly even more dangerous. Because the gospel is NOT about works... good or bad. It's about Jesus and Abundant Life in Him.
I have HOPE that the Abundant Life is what Jesus came to give us. I believe in "Loving Each Other as Jesus has loved us" ~John 15 Just like Jesus "fulfilled the Law and Prophets by His life, death and Resurrection" So we can too, through Jesus...
... the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY! (theme of my little blog here!) ~Colossians 1
Could we please quit trying to play "sin managers" and acting like the Gospel message (the GOOD NEWS message) is all about "Being Good and perfecting Christianity"?? You don't even know how many people you alienate when you present that message.
~Let's stick to Loving each other! The NEW commandment that sums up ALL the commandments.