Ever heard that old phrase “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”? I don’t know for sure but I am pretty sure that was taken from John 8 in scripture.
It’s the scene where the pharisees bring an adulterer woman to Jesus and they are prepared to stone her… because Jewish law “commanded” it. You are probably familiar with his response – “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” You probably also know they left without putting her to death.
This scripture has been coming to my mind a lot lately. Today, it was when I saw a post on Facebook about Yahoo! starting a gay pride page. Of course a page like that brings out the extremes of both sides – supporters and detractors. Jesus’ and God’s names both got used a lot on that page in the comments section – again by both sides… but neither side, for the most part, portraying either name very accurately.
John 8 definitely came to mind. It’s so strange to me how as Christ followers we still can get caught up in believing we have to set the world straight (pardon the pun). It’s really not our responsibility to do that. Jesus only called us to love God and love one another. See Matthew 22:36-40 for proof…
The biggest argument I get from “Christians” about this is that we are supposed to correct and admonish… to defend our faith and principles… to not be of the world… to not be ashamed of the Gospel… to not allow anyone to be mislead into thinking their sinful life is ok. But here is the rub that we all hate to admit. No one is without sin. Period. AND sin is sin is sin. There is no ranking – as much as we want to believe there is. It is all about each of us pursuing Jesus and seeking Him in everything we do and say. Doing this will not gain you perfection but perfection on Earth isn’t what it is all about anyway.
Remember what Jesus did in John 8. He challenged the accusers – the religious leaders – publicly. He shamed them really. He made it impossible for any of them to do anything other than walk away. But why? They were in the “right” according to the law that Moses himself had set in place. Think about it for a minute. Let’s say they stoned that woman and she died right there on that spot. Justice would have been served but what else would have been accomplished? Maybe people that saw it would have been afraid to ever commit that sin… or maybe they would just be sure to be more careful. Not much else would be accomplished. On the flip side though… Seeing mercy and love and grace far more people are influenced. The woman who would have been killed is free and I have a feeling her story traveled much further. Maybe even the leaders learned a lesson… How many of them walked away and never threw another stone again for the rest of their lives?
The obvious thing to me is that Jesus was setting the example that living our lives for justice is not our calling. That is too easy to distort and pervert. Those leaders desired to set Jesus up. They desired to set a trap for him. They really cared nothing for the law or certainly for the woman. They cared only in asserting their own authority. An easy trap for us to fall in ourselves. By pointing out all of the flaws of everyone else – it’s easy for us to overlook our own flaws… for us to justify our own nature because – well it just isn’t as bad as what some other people are doing. Remember that the only ones who got publicly shamed were the religious leaders who were right in the eyes of justice.
The final thing I’ll talk about from John 8 (though there is way more to get in to!!) is that Jesus didn’t just dry the woman’s tears and send her on her way. Check out John 8:9-11 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” When Jesus was alone with her he says go and sin no more. In private – just the 2 of them – he gently leaves her with instruction – “go, you are fee… and stop sleeping around.” You want to truly see a way to make the difference in the life of someone you see making huge mistakes? Show them kindness… show them love… Look for an opportunity to make a real difference – when they are ready an opportunity will pop up where you can speak truth in love and it will be heard. Anything else is a waste of your time and you are damaging your witness and you are not being a light on a hill … You aren’t showing you follow Christ, you are showing you might know the law, just like the pharisees, but you certainly don’t understand love.
We all live in glass houses and we have no need for stones.