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Known by love???

Why are Christians often known for condemnation? Why does it surprise us when we eventually find out that someone can't keep the impossibly high level of moral purity that we believe they should have, when at the same time, we know that we can't do it ourselves?... Why is it that so much of the church's lens (and theology) has been narrowed down to only accept a standard that no one can possibly keep?


This is not a blog about excusing poor behaviour or abuse. It's anything but that. I guess it's a blog about slowing everything down and listening to why we behave like we do, rather than condemn the poor choices that others, or we, make. Condemnation is a language that Jesus did not speak.


Condemnation is for those who don't want to listen to a story... they just want to judge a situation based on their own version of right and wrong. It is often used by people to keep you from seeing their own mess and pain. Condemnation has been a weapon of the church to keep people controlled. No one enjoys receiving it, so most will do whatever they can to avoid it... When condemnation is the language of a church, then abuse will be the fruit of that church.


When a woman caught in the act of adultery thrown at Jesus' feet... his response was not to condemn her. His response was to challenge a religious system that traded in condemnation and control. He opened all of our eyes to a system (if I can call it that) that was created for this world, but ignored by the world. The religious system had gotten so used to the rights and wrongs of the Law that they found themselves sitting under and eating from the wrong tree... The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was always going to bring death and in this story the religious had predetermined that it was either going to be the woman's death, or it was going to be Jesus'... but there was another way.


This other way was not one that anyone had seen coming, but they should of. It was no secret to the ancients, but it was a mystery to the people. It was a way that would confound the world for millennia after Jesus ascended. It was a way that even the religious leaders of the day described as "he has turned the world upside down". It was a way that many have tried to create religions out of... but every time we do, we find that it does not fit sweetly or tightly into any of our well thought out theologies.


So what is this way?...


This one story speaks so truly to this new way. Jesus saw the person before he looked for the behaviour. He didn't agree with her choices, but he could see her heart. Here was a person who didn't need to be reminded of her sin, she needed an encounter of His love and she got it in the most unexpected place.


Here's a thing... when someone encounters Jesus' love it becomes a community event. All who witnessed this moment would have stood in the awe of what love just did. Anyone who has ever felt love knows how powerful love is. They know how safe they are when they feel so seen and loved. They know the freedom they feel when love supplants condemnation. Can you imagine what this woman felt? Can you imagine what the people who witnessed this felt? They encountered the "other way".


There is not a person on the planet that does not want to be seen, heard and known (this is our design). The interesting part of this "other way" is that Jesus said we would be known by love, and that love would be the revelation of who we are. Which, to me, says that when we love our design can not be hidden, it will always be seen.


So back to our story... Here's Jesus, down writing in the dirt... but he's not sitting under the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil... There's another tree at play here... The Tree of Life, the "other way". Whoever eats from this tree will not be tasting condemnation. They will not be tasting religion. They will not be tasting competing theologies. They will be feasting on the life and love


that has been offered to us all.


Let us not be known for who we condemn... Let us be known by who it is we love, both in heaven and on earth.


Grace and peace,

Matt






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