Monday, August 22, 2011

Love the sinner, hate the sin! - August 22nd, 2011

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”   
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
John 8:7-11

History and Context:
The book of John is the fourth Gospel and it is believed to be the last written. John was one of the inner three of Jesus' disciples and referred to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". John seemed to have written his Gospel for those who had already known the story of Jesus. He focuses on the meaning of the events rather than the events themselves. There is also a strong focus on the words and teachings of Jesus, specifically on Jesus' claims about Himself. These claims are best known as the seven "I am" statements. John probably wrote this Gospel in Ephesus somewhere around 70 AD.

The Text:
Here is a famous story and example of love and forgiveness. The pharisees bring a woman to Jesus whom they claim they caught in the act of adultery. They want to follow the law and stone her to death and they are testing Jesus to see what He says. At first Jesus ignores them but then eventually He tells them that the stoning should be begun by the one who has not sinned. Jesus is reminding them that they have all sinned and all seen mercy. Each person was convicted of their sin and left until it was just Jesus and the woman. Jesus then said "neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." This statement is the best example in the Bible of how we should approach sinners.

The Challenge:
Today there are two popular extremes in how Christians approach sinners. The first extreme is like the pharisees. Let's stone them! We see this example with the picketers talking bout how God hates homosexuals, but it is also seen in many churches. It is a judgmental attitude of 'if you don't follow the rules you can't come in here'. Then we wonder why our church never attracts sinners. The second extreme is where the church says, 'it's okay, do whatever you want, God's mercy will cover it." This is also not right. Even though Jesus did not condemn the woman, He told her clearly that she needed to stop sinning. We don't know whether she listened to Him or not but that is not the point. The point is the attitude that Jesus showed towards the sinner. He loved the sinner and hated the sin. He accepted the sinner with no compromise to morality. As always He is our perfect example and we should strive to follow that example.

The Prayer:
Lord, help me to see people and sin like you do. Help me to love the people with your lve but hate the sin in the same way as you hate sin. Help me to show acceptance to the people around me without compromising my morals and without accepting their sins. Give me your eyes and your ears and most of all your heart. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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