Social media and the tools that allow us all to freely share our unfiltered opinions, have highlighted how much we, in general, lack mercy & grace. Folk aren’t allowed to make mistakes, whether those mistakes happened 5years ago or 2minutes ago & they since learnt from them, they will spread like wild fire.
A video was posted of a drunk well known pastor. I didn’t watch the video but the accompanying status condemned her for drinking & said she should resign from her position until she fixes up. I understand where the writer was coming from, we should call sin by it’s name. We shouldn’t allow those who claim to be representing Christ to get away with sinning so freely but there are ways to do this.
Recently there’s been a surge of people calling out sin, especially on social media, but as far as I see it has no purpose but to shame the sinner in question. And that’s not what we should be doing, as representatives of Christ, especially if we are using Him as an example. When I saw yesterday’s status the first example that came to mind is John 8, when the woman who is caught in adultery is brought to Christ. It’s a familiar story & I think it’s one of those ones we know so well that we forget it’s significance. So in a nutshell, a woman is caught in adultery, she’s brought to Christ by the Pharisees who are ready to stone her (the punishment for adultery at the time), Christ says ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’, they don’t stone her & he tells her to go & sin no more [read the full thing here].
It’s an amazing story & is deeper than first appears but the key things I took away from it are:
1. As far as we know she was a Jewish woman & so knew the consequences of her sin & still chose to do it. She “deserved” her punishment.
2. Christ makes no mention of her sin. He doesn’t say “you’re an adulterer but you get another chance” nor does He claim she is innocent.
3. He shifts the focus from her sin to her redemption. It’s not about what she’s done or who she’s done it with, but her freedom from it.
4. He literally saves her life, the stoning could possibly have killed her.
But the most important thing, in my opinion, about this story is that Christ forced everyone involved to acknowledge their own failings before they stoned this woman. He showed them that we – regardless of gender, position, race – are all connected by sin, and thus all in need of grace & mercy. Knowing that should make us empathetic to the struggle of overcoming sin because:
1. we know how good it feels to sin
2. we know how difficult it is to stop.
With those points in mind, how we approach addressing other people’s sin, should be to refocus to their redemption (through Christ). Grace & mercy are what lead to one’s freedom, they are life-changing, life-saving, revolutionary acts, crucial in how we love (& follow the commandments). Neither excuses sin but provides a way out; the last thing Christ says to the woman is ‘go & sin no more’. Call out sin (to the sinner) but also show them the way out.