Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why Don't You Hold Onto That Rock?

In the book of Mark in the New Testament there is a story relayed to us that a woman, caught in adultery, is brought before Jesus. The pharisees want to know if she should be executed via stoning as the Old Testament law prescribed. Jesus doesn't answer for sometime and instead starts drawing in the dirt. Finally, after they asked him a few more times, Jesus said, "If you don't have any sin in your life, throw a stone at her."

Our lives, I think, are still a lot like this. Only we simply alternate roles from being part of the mob and the woman. If we are good (at hiding) we aren't the woman too often. We understand that the more we are part of the mob and busy stoning the guilty maybe no one will notice our guilt. If we root for a certain politician to fail, if we can make fun of someone else's sexual orientation/clothing/musical taste/job/etc., if we are up to date on the latest news of our friends that can be passed to other people, then we are successfully taking the focus off ourselves and maybe no one will notice that we are just as guilty as the people we are mocking and judging.

What Jesus does in that story is genius stuff: he makes the mob wait for an answer (I bet it got kind of quite as everyone waited for this controversial teacher to stop drawing in the dirt); then he makes everyone take their focus off of the person they want to judge and confront their own guilt.

My Tuesday night discussion group was talking about family and the church this last week and the question was posed: if you could take "family thinking" into the church what would you take in? The top two answers: safety and the ability to be "ourselves" without fear; and two, an understanding that even if we don't agree that we can still talk and work together toward a common goal (also known as "mutual respect").

So maybe in the midst of the non-stop character assassinations with public, sports, celebrity, and personal figures we should just stop and ask ourselves how much grace we would want if we were caught in the act of our darkest sin and drug in front of an angry mob. It feels different if the stones are going to be coming at you.

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