John 8:3-11 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (New International Version/Bolded for emphasis)
In the U.S.A eight out of ten people describe themselves as Christian but less than half of those people attend church. It’s not due to a shortage of churches, there’s an estimated 300,000 churches in our country. To put that number in context, there are only 31,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the whole world and you know how quickly we can get to a Mickey D’s drive-thru! So what’s the issue? Why do people who call themselves Christian avoid attending church? Why have they left the church? I think the account above, from John 8:3-11, sheds some light on the situation (read the bolded portion again). In too many cases we have lost the most defining part of Jesus’ ministry – LOVE
The religious leaders caught this woman in the act of adultery but rather than taking their normal course of action and stoning her, they decided to get two for one and use this to condemn Jesus as well. They knew from experience how Jesus responded to sin. They had seen His ministry up close and knew His response would be mercy and forgiveness. You see, Jesus knew people were sin sick. He didn’t diagnose and judge everyone He came into contact with. He entered into relationship with them and restored them. They hated Jesus for this because they, in contrast used their positions to Lord over people and to solidify themselves as the righteous ones. So they plotted to use this very public opportunity to bring Jesus and His popular and growing ministry to an end.
Sadly people don’t know us for what the religious leaders knew Jesus for – responding and acting in love, mercy and forgiveness. Too often we are the ones with the rocks in our hands. Although we teach love, mercy and forgiveness, too often in practice we are the most judgmental, critical, divided, prejudiced and emotionally abusive people. Jesus demonstrated and taught a lifestyle that reflected another Kingdom, another way. He spent very little time judging what the sinners did (except for the religious leaders: Mt. 15:2-3, Mt. 23:27-28, Jn. 8:42-47) and quite a bit of time eating, talking, and spending time with sinners, showing them the Kingdom and how to relate to God.
When I talk to people who are turned off by church it’s almost always the same response. They’ve had a very negative experience with church people and church politics or they are working on getting their lives together so they can be accepted in our environment.
Get their lives together so they can be accepted! We’ve got to get back to the message of the Kingdom. When the world comes and the de-churched come or better yet we go…we can’t point out why we believe their lives are in disarray. We need to do what Jesus did. Get in relationship with them. Introduce them to the one who died for us. Invite them into our lives. Let them see the hallmark of the King — a loving, accepting and open Church that transforms people with the power of love, mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus was the one who knew no sin and had more right than anyone to pick up rocks. But He didn’t. He extended Himself to others and gave His life instead. The answer is clear for us – PUT THE ROCKS DOWN! And let’s see the greatest revival that The Church has known. Our King is soon to come…perfect God. perfecting people.