but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midstthey said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 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." - John 8: 1-11 (ESV)
I read an article this week from an ordained minister from the Presbyterian Church who says he wants his Christianity back. He claims that forces of hate have infiltrated the teachings of Jesus and hijacked them for political and personal issues that have little to do with the Gospel. He claims those with the platforms and microphones in modern Christianity more resemble the Pharisees than the traditional teachings of Jesus Christ. On these points he is absolutely correct. There are clearly people who mix politics and religion without having a clear understanding of either. People who mistakenly believe that God wants America to be a theocracy, like ancient Israel. Other people who seem to follow dominionist theology that believes we have to prepare the earth for the second coming of Christ by taking it over. Jesus of course taught none of this. He commissioned us to spread the Gospel, not try and effect seven man made cultural mountains. He commanded us to love one another and love Him above all else. God requires that we love mercy not discrimination. He requires that we act justly not selfishly. He requires that we walk humbly before Him not arrogantly flaunt ourselves as God's enforcer.
The problem however is that the author of the article and the Presbyterian Church in general want to rescue Christianity and then hijack it themselves. They want to take cultural acceptance and tolerance in a pagan society and apply it to God and His Word. They want to look at the cancer that sin is and give those suffering from it a temporal aspirin. It may ease the pain and make them feel better but they are still dying.
And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." - Mark 2: 16-17 (ESV)
Beloved, sin is a sickness. I did not say it, God did. My sin is not different than your sin or the sin someone commits in the world. The only question is if you have placed your faith in the Great Physician or not and repented. You cannot turn a blind eye to sin and call it love. You cannot turn a blind eye to sin and call it tolerance. Call it what it is - cruelty. Allow me to allegorize the story of the woman caught in adultery to highlight the point. There are three essential parts to this story, each with its own applications:
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midstthey said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.
The Pharisees as the author of the article alluded to, are akin to many of the "Christian" leaders we hear speaking today. All with fingers extended pointing at someone else's sin. All holding stones in their hands. This is the state of many in the leadership of the church today. Constantly accusing the world. Constantly pointing at their sin. Often times armed and intending on doing as much damage as possible; all in the name of Jesus. As if Jesus would try to ban gay marriage. As if Jesus would picket abortion clinics. As if Jesus would deport children escaping abject poverty and slaughter at the hands of drug cartels. Whenever someone tried to drag Jesus into anything involving the society of His day, He casually brushed it aside because it meant nothing to Him. Because it had no eternal value. Jesus knew Rome was doomed to fall yet we fool ourselves into thinking if we can just convince enough unsaved people to behave better God will not judge America. Just like Rome fell, so too will America. Our citizenship beloved is not here. It is in heaven. The bottom line truth is the church loves Sodom. The church loves Babylon. So we try to find ways to fit Babylon surviving into our theology. Stop fighting for Sodom. Stop trying to affect the culture of a fallen world. Get back to what we were commanded and commissioned to do.
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 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.
We talked about walking humbly before our God earlier. The second part of this allegory is that we need to focus on our shortcomings and those in the church, not the splinters we see in the eyes of the world. Let's face it. The world makes an easy target. Their sin is easy to spot and easy to condemn. They are still in need of a doctor. The Bible describes them as walking in utter darkness! Do we provide the light of the Gospel? No. We try to convince them that we are righteous. We think we are trying to convince them we are right but all they see is that we think we are better than them. That we are righteous and they are miserable. That we caught them in the act. Do you remember before you were saved? How would you have greeted someone who tried to pass laws against you? Who tried to say you could not do something that everyone else was allowed to just because of a belief system you do not share? Is that going to further the cause of Christ? Will anyone be saved because of it? Isn't that what we are supposed to be worried about? Instead however we stand before the very people we should bring the Gospel to with stones in our hands and feel justified because we caught them in the act. We have judged them when there is still a chance to save them.
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."
The danger the Presbyterian Church and many other liberal denominations engage in is in forgetting the last part of this story. They think the story ends with the Pharisees dropping their rocks and walking away. They forget - go and sin no more. There is a difference between cultural acceptance of sin and God accepting it. America is a melting pot of paganism. We can be on the side of fairness within a world system and not compromise our beliefs within our own church. What good does it do to stop the stoning but never tell the adulteress to go and sin no more? You saved her temporal life but never addressed the fact that she is still eternally dead in her trespasses. You gave her the painkiller but never told her she has cancer. God does not change just because society does. Rome still fell and God remained God. America one day will go the way of Rome and God will still be God. Liberal and conservative Christianity both miss the point when it comes to sin. The conservative crowd wants to enforce judgment on sinners now and the liberals want to pretend God is OK with it. Both are equally wrong. You want your Christianity back? It was never yours to begin with. It was always His. We do not help anyone who is living in sin to stone them to death. We also do not help them by stopping those that would stone them but not tell them to go and sin no more. One pretends they are beyond redemption and the other provides a temporal salve on an eternal wound.