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That Mythical Thing Called Balance

October 16, 2016

Greetings,

“…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 !

 

 

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19 Comments
  1. Sue heumann permalink

    This is so true, Christopher! I’ve seen both really blatantly. im so glad we are called to stand on the Jesus side which is truth, love, and grace….but caring enough about right living that others aren’t hurt, or living loosely causing Jesus name to be questioned because of no standards at all. We now have a higher law as Wayne Jacobsen says…the law of love aims higher than any list or standards. Battery low….gotta go….but enuf…thx for the post today.

    • Thanks you for sharing that confirmation of the truth in love Sue. You always encourage me!

  2. peterhorvatin3gmailcom permalink

    Yes, we need to walk that middle ground with gentleness and respect.

  3. Amen Chris. One caveat- when as individuals we at least pass into/through the balance on occasion… ha… that makes 3 kinds of churches (local congregations where ever, whomever they may be)! Grace that works change in us by God the Holy Spirit. Yes!! More Lord Jesus!!! -Glenn

    • Thank you Glenn, grace that works change in us is exactly what we all need no matter how we happen to be the church in any given situation.

  4. Good points everyone and what a great passage, Chris! There is a scripture that says “Do not judge or you will be judged”, which I think is a great starting place, since being judgmental will kill the fruit of the Holy Spirit from flowing – including agape love. But I think this passage shows the balance between discerning something (which some might count as judging), and passing judgement on someone – with Jesus once again our perfect example showing how to do this well! So, I see the “Do not judge” as the “throwing rocks” condemnation of others which tends to contain lots of rejecting of the person in it. So, Jesus then says to the woman, was there no one to condemn you? But then from a place of love and discernment He tells her to leave her life of sin. So, instead of throwing rocks at her, He instead is freeing her up to function more as she is designed to function – which is to be Christ-like by His grace and enabling. This goes along with the verse, “If the Son sets you free, you’ll be free indeed.” So, I think if we truly have very open hearts to Jesus and that are with Jesus, than His agape love can flow through us. And from this context we can better partner with Him as He works to free people up for their good out of His tremendous love for them. So, once again, definitely a great passage of scripture written by the most relationally gifted of the Gospel writers named John. So, Jesus does it perfectly, but for us who do not walk as well as Jesus, the following Galatians 6:1 verse seems like a good reminder point of balance: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

    • Scott, thank you for affirming and supplementing this post with some great thoughts.

  5. Tom Ball permalink

    One of your most balanced and on-target posts, Chris. This one exemplifies what profitable exhortation is all about. Good on you!

    • Tom, thank you for your support, affirmation and confirmation. I appreciate you brother.

  6. Mercy fulgencio permalink

    I live in the richness of God’s grace alone .
    Thank You, LORD …

  7. Gary Zanow permalink

    I regularly repeat at Celebrate Recovery “God loves you just the way you are; but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.” which is what those of us in recovery from addiction, or like myself other hurts, habits and hang-ups need to, and actually, want to hear if we ever wish to experience recovery

  8. Sue heumann permalink

    That’s a wonderful statement, Gary!

  9. "BK" permalink

    Loved this, Christopher! Amen to all the comments too! Something I noticed once was that the scriptures take the time to mention Jesus “wrote with His finger….”. I believe this corresponds with what Tony said because it is interesting that THE LAW was also written with the ‘finger of God’. So Jesus made a huge statement to Jews when He used His finger to write whatever He wrote that day. Also I have to say this is EXACTLY what happened a week ago Sunday at our gathering here at the house. The Lord’s love lanced a boil and then bound it up to heal. An incredible thing to watch and then to read this today. Very cool, indeed! Love, “BK”

    • Very cool BK! Of course that type of lancing, binding and healing has a much greater chance of happening when fellowship is open, free and Spirit led. When each member can share amazing things like that happen all the time.

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