What Side Are You On?
It’s a question that has been thrown around a lot lately. What side are you on? When this line of picking sides is drawn in the sand it separates people so fully. Anger and mistrust lie on both sides resulting in attacks and behavior that is demeaning.
These lines are drawn over so many issues- racism, same sex marriage, political affiliation, socio-economic status, even denominations- and while I think discussions and challenges on these issues are good and can be effective, too often these discussions result in further divisions and deeper chasms.
When Jesus drew lines in the sand, it was to challenge the crowd to consider this- “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” ~John 8:7 (speaking of the woman caught in adultery).
The beauty of Jesus’s approach is that one by one the crowd disperesed without one stone being thrown. Some will say that the message of Jesus here is that no one should judge another unless they are without sin. And this is true. When we truly understand that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), we are able to move from judging others in their sin to recognizing the grace that we have received in Christ when we have accepted his gift of salvation.
I believe that one of the reasons we are so quick to judge another’s sin is that we don’t truly understand the meaning of sin. We categorize sin- my pride and my greed are not nearly as deplorable as your theft and murder- but we need to understand that God does not categorize sin. In God’s eyes, sin is rebellion against Himself. It is anything that puts our own way first. It is intentionally OR unintentionally removing God from the throne of our lives and putting anything else in that place.
We judge someone else’s sin until we realize that if we are honest with ourselves, we are simply sinners saved by grace. If my sins were dragged out into a public square, the situation would be just as dire as the woman caught in adultery.
But the message of Jesus here is not simply to not judge others in their sin. Jesus goes on to say one of the most profound statements in scripture- “Women, 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.”
This statement is so beautiful to me, because the truth is Jesus COULD have condemned her. He was without sin. He was free to judge. But he could see her heart and he knew the repentance that was inside of her. And then he told her to go and sin no more.
Jesus could say these things because He was fully God. Too often as Christians, we can begin to think too highly of ourselves. We puff ourselves up with knowledge and we can debate and argue with the best of them. We hide behind standing up for truth and we forget that WE ARE NOT GOD. We cannot see into someone’s heart and we cannot change their heart. But Jesus can.
And so, I am drawing a new line in the sand, a new side, because I believe that Jesus came and sacrificed his life to save us from our sins, NOT so that we would yell at each other from our own soap boxes. That is the side that I want to be on.
I believe in a BIG God, One who is capable of changing any heart where it needs to be changed. I believe that He loves even the worst of sinners, but he loves them too much to leave them in their sin. He WILL change any heart that humbly comes to him, seeking to be changed by Him.
By the way, we all need this change in our lives. Until we die, we should be seeking Christ to change us, to make us more like Himself.
Because I believe in a big God, I am convinced that my role in life is to point others to Him. I do not know a single person who has been shamed into a change of heart, but I know plenty who have discovered the love of God that brings peace, hope and joy beyond human explanation.
I can’t condemn anyone, because I am a sinner. But I believe in a God who doesn’t know any sinner He can’t change. And so my feet are firmly planted on His side and my prayer is that I would faithfully point others to Him.