Sunday, June 22, 2008
"We should love people because they are just like us--SINNERS; don't hate them because their sin is different than ours."
Jeff Johnson March 2008
In keeping with my blog format, Sunday will be an inspirational message.
I am not a Bible expert. In looking at a particular story where a woman had sinned (the sin is not important here) was taken outside of the city walls by her peers. The purpose was to judge her then stone her to death. Everyone gathered around while the sin was discussed and while the stones were being picked up--since this was the custom. I am sure not all picked up stones. I am sure some picked up stones, most probably threw them, some threw them very hard, some threw them very lightly--just to fit in. Some came to watch--some came to change their life since they may be in the same sin, and some wondered why they were there in the first place. Everyone had a reason to be there and everyone left with a reason on how they would return home. Many would feel like they rid the world of evil, a few would see the consequence and change their life, someone would find a way to help others avoid this scene.
Today we pick up stones in more sophisticated ways, but the end results are the same. We all know someone who is having problems. Maybe the problem is financial, marital, children, grief, homelessness, work, working through a particular issue that is unknown, or just in living a particular lifestyle. Most of us lean towards ignoring the situation under the guise, "I have enough problems of my own", or "I do not have enough time." Can we be real for just a minute...maybe we say, "they deserve everything they are getting and more," or "I hope they suffer for what they have done--look at the hurt they have caused." I am sure you and I can think of our favorites. We don't call them stones anymore, but 'barbs' and isolation and prejudices---HATE with rejection for short.
Jesus tells a new story--a story of HOPE, PEACE, LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, and FORGIVENESS with RESTORATION. In Matthew 23:37, we read,
37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Jesus is disappointed, but HE wanted to gather to protect, to save, to assist those who were causing harm and destruction. In modern terms--they were hurting others and causing destruction. Jesus answer was not going to stone them, to harm them, to ignore them, but to gather them up for FORGIVENESS with RESTORATION. How can we help those we are stoning?
We pick sides--always--even silence is a side--maybe the wrong side at times. We learn in
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." We can not hate and love at the same time. I do not want to ignore the saying, "I love the person and hate the sin," but here the question must be asked, Which feeling will help me to help them or even motivate me to help them? In our attempt to 'walk a thin line' we must understand the person hurting can not separate the two. While we walk the 'thin line' we must look at both sides very closely to make sure we are on the line evenly. If we are firmly on one side or the other we focus on the side in which we stand. Can we ever separate tea from water, or pain from sorrow--impossible! Walking the 'thin line' does not commit, walking the thin line is the same as carrying the stone and throwing it short hoping to look like the 'in' crowd but trying not to cause any damage. But to the person looking at the stones--does it matter which ones fall short--or who is in the line throwing them?
The person who has sinned--all of us, yes even me, needs love through the sin, despite the sin, over the sin, not because of the sin. The desire to help should be humans helping a person in need not curing a sin--JUST A SIMPLE LOVE TO A PERSON. Can we walk with Hate (stones) in our hand and have an open (loving) hand at the same time? I have not been able to do it. The first step to helping is to learn how to love blindly. Learning how to see people through our heart, trusting GOD to guide us during the first few miles of the journey--so we can learn how to love more effectively. Learning how to let hate go and embrace love is to give our talents no matter what the outcome--just to love giving help--people to people--sinner to sinner.
Take that first step FORWARD STEPPERS--not to cast stones but to look at our hands. Are we holding more stones or opening them up to gather in? Open hands drop stones.
I believe in you because YOU ARE WORTH IT,