Thursday, July 10, 2008

Responsibility within the Body

Jesus walked from the Mount of Olives through brilliant morning sunshine toward the Temple. He was noticed and recognized. The flocking after Him occurred this Jerusalem morning, as well. Those of the city who already whispered in reverence, "He is the Messiah," those who hoped He was and the merely curious angled as close as possible in their steps on the chance of hearing or seeing some encounter between Jesus and anyone else. His words comforted or jarred but were never like the numbing discourse of the other rabbi's.

Entering the Temple courtyard, Jesus stopped and slowly turned gazing upon the forty or so people who had formed in His wake. His feet shifted easily, and the sound of His sandals scraping the grit on the flooring stones of the Temple could be heard over the quieting group. Many already standing in the Temple court gathered themselves in without speaking, swelling the crowd of followers. Though no one announced, "Be quiet and the Rabbi will teach," all knew He would soon loose His knowledge and insights upon the crowd. His hands opened toward the people, then palmed down toward the ground and everyone settled there. He sat down and began to teach them.

Within minutes, a swirling noisy group entered the courtyard and drowned out Jesus' words. Several men easily identified by their garb as scribes and Pharisees pushed a frightened young woman before them while other men just behind shouted epithets against her. This raucous cluster split the listeners apart scattering them like startled livestock. Jesus stood to face men who shoved the trembling woman to the ground at His feet. The sun felt glaring and hot in mere seconds as a tense hush stalked the courtyard in sharp contrast with the quiet harmony of only a few moments before.

John 8: 4 they 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?" 6 They 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. 7 But 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." 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When 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. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."

Reflecting on the above story, what do we make of it? Forgiveness covers adultery perhaps.

Take in the next verse. 12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."

The adulterous woman was in darkness, no? This passage is often used to teach about the forgiveness of God toward sinfulness, and since we are all sinners we should not judge others. But there is more to infer. The Pharisees follow immediately with a charge that Jesus is testifying falsely about Himself being the Light. Jesus challenges them, as well, and the confrontation continues with the Pharisees claiming their lineage from Abraham. Their claim is intended to establish their right position before God. Jesus counters and places Himself before Abraham leading to the Pharisees wanting to stone Him.

The whole scene does include the extent of God's forgiveness toward sin. However, I think the woman being forgiven adultery is the prelude to the point of the passage. Within the story those who would condemn her are told to cast stones if they are without sin. The passage ends with these same men identified as denying God. Are they not the "darkness" to which Jesus refers in verse 12?

The Body of Christ suffers today intensely from condemnation and judgment. Within local bodies identified as being of the same mind by denominational doctrine, the willingness of people's hearts to look judgmentally upon one another with condemnation rather than unconditional love scores the light of fellowship with darkness.

I cannot change everyone, but I can decide differently for myself. How about you?


Iris said...

The words of our Lord in John 3:17 and also in John 12:47 (and others as well) tell us that He is not judging anyone presently. We are living in the period of grace and sin has been dealt with. He entreats all to come -- without judgement.

"Him in us" is still not judging! So you are correct -- we are entirely out of line to judge anyone! This is hard on all of us with legalism in our background. It is not that Jesus is soft on sin, it is instead that He has forgiven all of it. So He says -- "Go and sin no more." What beautiful words and what great possibility with Him living in us.

Jimazing said...

If only we could figure out that our judgment of others is really not about them. My criticism and judgment is always about my own heart. Many times, the root is a desire to feel good about me because I am "better than" them. Maybe "they" make me feel uncomfortable, but my discomfort isn't about them.

Steve Sensenig said...

I cannot change everyone, but I can decide differently for myself.

This is something that is continually difficult for me. I want to change everyone. But it's not my job, and I may not have it completely right anyway, so even if I could change them, I might end up messing them up more.

Walking in a way that is not judging of others necessitates, I think, recognizing exactly what Iris was talking about above -- recognizing that we ourselves are not being judged.

When we grasp our own freedom from sin in Christ, we can then allow others to live in that same freedom.

ded said...

Iris, thanks again for commenting. I always appreciate your insights.

It is not that Jesus is soft on sin, it is instead that He has forgiven all of it. Now if we would believe this in our approach to sin among us!!

jimazing, always great to hear from you my friend! Your comment would go long way toward healing ills within the body, if more folks would realize this. When our hearts are agitated, it is us and not the one before us who needs adjusting!

Steve, thanks for visiting here once again. This issue is so fundamental to the Christian walk, but I find the error of judging others based on the help of "fixing" others prevalent. That "fix" is a judgment call, eh?

Steve Sensenig said...

I'm afraid it is. At least that's what I've been realizing lately.

I have no idea where the line is, but I sure don't want to be "fixing" anything or anyone unless it is the Spirit using me to do his work of "fixing" (and it really is his job).