Saturday, April 26, 2014

Love Revolution

John 8:1-11: Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. "Teacher", they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." 

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture and it was one I was meditating on this morning. I've been wanting a deeper revelation of the love of God. There are a few things about this story that stand out to me. The first thing that I noticed is that the religious leaders not only wanted the woman punished on the spot, but they also made a public spectacle of her. By dragging her out in front of the crowd, they made sure that what she did was known to everyone. Not only did they want to break her body by stoning her, but they wanted to break her spirit as well. Their desire was to call out her sin for the world to see. I can't even begin to tell you the number of people who have not entered the doors of a church for years because they recognize the Pharisee spirit within the church. Someone at some point in their life has brought condemnation to them for a sin in their life. I know that sin is sin and it deserves punishment. However, what Jesus was doing here was basically putting a woman caught in adultery on the same level as the religious elite of the day. He in effect was making it clear that their secret sin that nobody knows about is equal with the sin this woman committed. If anyone breaks only one commandment, they have been made guilty of breaking the whole law. In the eyes of God, you and I are really no better than the murderer or the drug dealer. We've all sinned. The only difference is grace. Jesus offered the woman grace and mercy. It is interesting to note that Jesus was the only one qualified there to stone her because he was without sin. Let that sink in for a minute. The only one in the world who actually had the right to judge or condemn her didn't do it. That's because  Jesus understood that it the goodness of God that draws people to repentance. It isn't the scary lightning bolts and hell fire judgement that makes people turn away from sin and choose Jesus. It's his love. So, why do people put up billboards in communities condemning homosexuality? Why do people campaign against certain sins? Will it really cause anyone to make a life change? I'm going to say that the answer is a resounding NO! Condemnation doesn't bring about change. In fact, it prevents it. Only the loving conviction of the Holy Spirit brings about change in a persons life. Think about this: What if the teachers of the law and the Pharisees had stoned her anyway? If they had done that, then she would not have had the chance to hear the words. "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." Jesus with that one statement gave her mercy in not giving her what she deserved and have her the grace to walk away a changed woman on the inside. 

All around me over the past couple of years, I have seen a love revolution taking place. I know people in the Body of Christ whom I call friends who have gone in amongst drug addicted Juggalos at a music festival and gave food away and prayed with them. They loved people who had never seen real unconditional love in their life and I had the honor a couple of times to go in and help this group minister to them. I have known people who have gone overseas and taken care of the orphans and widows who have no voice or power to change their situation. I've seen a couple go to the girls in the "exotic dancing" business and just love them and serve them and treat them like they are peers and not inferior "sinners". I have both seen and heard of change in the lives of people because the love of God being shown through His children melted their hearts. I have seen these individuals and ministries begin to change the world around them. What if the church as a whole began to go to those places and bring people to the feet of Jesus? What would our world look like? I think it would look a lot like the Kingdom of God.

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