Janice EIcholtz | @JanJanMom
John 8:3-11 is one of my favorite references to the teachings of Christ in the Bible. What basically happens is that a whole group of Pharisees come to Jesus with a woman who is actually caught in the act of adultery. The penalty, for her at least, was to be stoned to death. They asked, "What shall we do with her?" Jesus answered that one who had not sinned should cast the first stone. Eventually, all of her accusers vanished.
Why is this my favorite teaching? It reminds me. Reminds me that I deserve punishment, but I am forgiven. It reminds me not to be quick to stone someone else for their sins. The message of Christ is mercy. God is love and God is mercy. It is HIS WILL that NONE should perish.
Okay, so there is the story. What does it mean? Sometimes, I think we learn scripture, can quote it even... but it never actually sinks into our hearts. I'm asking you to let those things sink in your heart.
I consider these my Christian guidelines, along with the MAJOR command: Love your neighbor as yourself. So, now, a real life application for me:
Our church has some turmoil right now. There are a couple of marriages on the rocks. In addition to that, there is at least some suspicion of sketchy behavior on the part of one or more of those folk. Because I am human, I've been very speculative. I've observed things I don't like. I've inferred things here and there. I've engaged in some venting from time to time. I've tried actively to be an encourager to all parties... but I have my leanings.
I don't really know the truth and I know full well that any truth in this matter will come with a bias. It is largely none of my business, and yet it is effecting change in my church that isn't good. What am I supposed to do? Even with the person/persons I feel is wrong?
What did Jesus do with the adulteress woman? He gently restored her. Restored her, gently. I don't want that to be the answer. When I am wronged, I want to shout it from the rooftops. I want all the world to know of my injustice! It isn't fair. Someone should publicly confess. We need to find out what happened and fix it. And then I read through my guidelines again.
Perhaps then, my role is not to be the investigator that solves the crime or finds the guilty party. Perhaps, my role is more of a supporting one, allowing God to do the heart work. To gently and lovingly remind myself and others that none of us is without sin. To remind a person who has jumped into the deep end of sin that God has a calling for them. That no matter how far they roam, the mercies of God will not run out.
Otherwise, I'm just another Pharisee calling for the stoning of a sinner that could just as easily be me. I choose grace. I choose mercy. I choose God's will that none should perish. Above all else, I really want to love people as much as I love myself and I want a gentle restoration...not a demand of repentance or banishment. Love and mercy are powerful tools, let's use them to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Janice Eicholtz is a Christ-follower that loves to laugh and thinks she is funny, so please laugh at her jokes! She and Erik, her husband of 21 years, have THREE teenage girls. She is a substitute teacher by day and a recovering supermom all the time. Her hobbies include nature walks, audio-books, writing, and Netflix. Follow her at her blog, ChefJanice.blogspot.com and contact her on Twitter via @janjanmom.