The divine brilliance of God’s Word is literally at our fingertips. He’s given us His vast wisdom, not surprisingly, most of which having to do with simply getting along with one another. Yet, we regularly ignore it. For instance, the amount of energy we spend as a society in accusation and condemnation is quite disheartening – don’t you agree? Don’t you think that at least as much energy should be spent in reconciliation and redemption? This apparent drive of ours to root out every little misstep, and immediately crucify. It’s a bit much. There’s the press, the politicians, the media, the socially righteous, the right, the left, the self-proclaimed victims and so on, all clamoring for punishment for each and every wrong. (I’m sure I’m in there, too.)
With cameras on us constantly, every misspoken word or weird facial expression winds up as more material for Jimmy Fallon’s nightly monologue. Such effort, such expense, such distraction. ’Methinks thou dost protest too much!’ Now, understand, I am all for the obliteration of the inequities that exists in this world. Outing things like racism, bigotry, bias and discrimination of course should be the way of all good citizens, and the duty of all good Christians. However, it seems to me at least, that we fall so way short in our efforts because of our eagerness to first pin accountability on the one caught in the act, instead of addressing the underlying fractures in our society’s moral structure. Where’s the follow up? Who’s talking about the changes that need to be made in each of us so that social injustices don’t require a riot or revolution or public outing to get addressed? Hypocrites we are. We sell and buy sexuality at every turn, and then are outraged if someone admires a woman’s figure in a pair of jeans. (That guy’s got to be fired!)
Now, take Jesus for instance – which is always a good way to start. Think about how he handles the case of the women accused of adultery (John 7:53 – 8:11). Quick recap: Jesus’s adversaries look to catch him in a trap. They present to him a woman allegedly caught in the act of adultery. (So, where’s the male participant in all of this, right?) The accusers remind Jesus that the punishment for adultery is death (Lev. 20:10). In this case, they seek death by stoning. They also seek Jesus’s approval, which for a teacher of love and mercy puts him in a bit of a pickle. Or so they think, since any appeal for mercy is in direct conflict with the law. So here they stand with stones in hand, ready to immediately carry out the sentence upon the accused, and maybe even Jesus. And then something really outrageous happens. (I’ll allow the narrative to make the point):
7 When they kept on questioning him, (Jesus) straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her….”
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older (wiser) 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.”
As I said: brilliant. Jesus exposes the hypocrisy, allows the accusers to consider their own short comings, has the accused acknowledge her sin, and teaches us all a little bit about mercy – if we ever want it, we need to give it, because believe me we all are going to need it sooner or later. So the next time we are ready to chuck a stone, let’s also consider an offer of redemption.