John 8:1-16 talks about this lady who was essentially drug out of bed while having an affair. It is indicated that this was done by the religious officials of the time… thats pretty dern creepy to say the least. Then thrown in front of Jesus and a response on her fate was demanded. They wanted an excuse to 1. accuse Jesus of something nasty (like forgiving her) 2. kill this naked lady in front of a crowd. So far pretty messed up stuff. The political agendas behind their actions were not well hidden… I bet these are the same guys who would love annual meetings in todays churches (pastor joke… if you don’t get it, thats ok). Jesus does the un thinkable, He ignores them for a while and writes in the sand. He does this while positioning himself in front of the angry crowd with stones and the nameless lady. When He gives his answer, it is simple and to the point. He encourages the stoning with the first stone to be thrown by who ever is currently living without sin. It was a perfect answer. From their current actions in this chapter alone the entire crowd could see that the accusers had sinned.
We have been talking at Neighbourhood Church about our NC Communities that we are forming and what those will look like. We don’t want to see another small group system or cell groups or what ever you call them. We want to try and have groups that live in community together. As friends, peers, colleagues and co-disciplers. With this in mind this verse comes out so incredibly clear for this reason.
To live in community with one another we never have an excuse to throw stones at our friends. We never have the right to throw stones at ANYONE. Friend, enemy, politician, celebrity, they are all targets of our need for verbal violence.
And more importantly You never have the right to tell someone to go and sin no more unless you are willing to stand in tront of the crowd and take stones for them. Thats how Jesus handled sin, not blaming and demanding immediate change, but the willingness to walk through an issue with someone privately. Notice how He waited for the accusers to leave before talking with her about her sin? There is something to be said for not making a big show out of someones failings. Respect is deserved by all. This respect + having her back + pointing her in the right direction = grace.
If you want to be in community you have to have each others back. If you want to be like Jesus you need to stand in front of the rocks being thrown at the people around you. You might not know them or even like them. But thats what Jesus did.
There are so many levels to consider in this story but we will leave it here for now. If your reading this, your challenge this week is to simply go and have someones back. If gossip is flying, words ripping someone down etc.. jump in their and defend the defenceless. The un named lady in this story can have a name in your life.