That Mythical Thing Called Balance
“…The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using the 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. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you, ” Jesus declared. “Go and sin no more.” John 8: 3-11
Very interesting passage. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were again trying to trap Jesus in His words so that they could accuse Him. I just hate baited questions, although online they do happen quite frequently. So they brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery and basically asked Jesus if they were supposed to follow the letter of the Law and stone her to death.
Jesus did not respond at first and instead he bent down and started to write on the ground. When they continued to question Him Jesus stood up and told them all to stone her if they were without sin. Then he bent down and started writing on the ground again. Now nobody really knows what Jesus wrote on the ground that day, but I saw Tony Campolo suggest once that Jesus simply started listing different sins on the ground. Sins such as lust, greed, pride, hatred, jealousy and so on. We will never know in this life, but what Tony suggested made a lot of sense to me. To have been there as one of her accusers and to see Jesus write one of my very own sins on the ground there, that sure would have motivated me to drop my stone and get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Whatever the case all of her accusers left the scene until just Jesus and her were left there.
When her accusers left Jesus told her that He did not condemn her, but also to go and sin no more. There we have it. The full message of Jesus. The balance of Jesus. In all my years I have noticed that there are basically two different kinds of churches. Churches that teach hyper-grace and tell everyone that they don’t condemn them no matter the sin they are walking in or where they are in their walk of faith. Their message is we accept you and your sin no matter what. These churches rarely address the matter of sin and when they do they gloss over it and stress grace to the exclusion of truth and real love. Then there are the hyper-judgement churches that just continually point the finger and demand that folks “go and sin no more!”, with little mention of grace and love. Both approaches are way out of balance and neglect the full message of Jesus, which is “I don’t condemn you, but go and sin no more.” Sure we are supposed to accept people right where they are, but along with that acceptance should come a call for an upright walk with God not weighed down in continual sin that hinders both the sinner and those around them.
The true Gospel cannot be shared without an extensive focus on the grace of our Lord, but it is also true that His message also calls for an upright righteousness that moves us away from sin and into a fullness of life in The Spirit and free from the sins that so easily entangle us. Like I said most churches lean too hard in one direction or the other, but if you find yourself part of a fellowship that speaks the truth in love in balance like Jesus did. Then I say you are fortunate indeed. The best fellowships focus on relationship with Him and one another to an extent well beyond typical friendships. However, individually we should also seek His balance in our life and message. This is a difficult task, but as my dear friend Glenn Kaiser says, “The only time we usually strike the balance is when we are going back and forth between the two extremes.” Ain’t that the truth? I know I fall way short of His ideal. Lord have mercy!
Love and …..
Kirk Out !