I love Jesus’ response to the women caught as she was having sex with a man that she shouldn’t have been having sex with. Scooped up from the bedroom and thrown into the middle of a mob of self-righteous men, she cowered, quivering, ready for the first rock to hit her in the side of the head, wondering how long it would take her to die, overwhelmed with the weight of a life poorly lived.
Enter Jesus, so drunk with grace that he didn’t even make sense to anyone, but he was deadly serious. His focus was the accusers’ sins, not the obvious sinner’s. He dispensed guilt to the accusers and grace to the sinner. His words for the angry mob, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. To the adulterer, “Where are you accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” ”No Lord,” she said. “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Let’s leave the land of self-loathing which dishonors Christ and explore the frontier of freedom and grace in the way of Jesus. Here is the good thing, the only good thing about failure and guilt… it can lead us to the one who has done something about it.
We have each built our own personal “hall of shame.” We have visited it so often that we have the floor plan and each exhibit memorized. We can provide greatly detailed commentary on the nuances of each piece.
Grace obliterates our great hall of shameful memories. More than that, it doesn’t give just the exact opposite of what we deserve. It doesn’t just multiply the blessings and joy that replace our guilt. It surprises us beyond that. It doesn’t keep score. It doesn’t understand math. It uses a totally different metric. It speaks another language.
The degree to which we grasp grace will determine how we see other people. Bums could be prophets. People who are different from us, really aren’t. Every person’s story is important. Screw ups deserve another chance.
Our failures remind us of his grace, not just our helpless stupidity. The accuser gets accused and we get set free.
The grace we are starving for is always there. Even though we go through all kinds of ups and downs, even though we walk with him and sometimes walk (or run) away from him, even though sometimes we know we need him and other times we seem to be doing fine on our own, his grace, his love, never changes. We can’t scare him away.
From my book, An Irreligious Faith.