I don’t usually get too serious on here, but today I did. I wrote this post as a Christian to other Christians, including myself. I pray that my heart and intentions come through clearly.

The woman was on her knees, hunched completely over in the dirt, probably a little beaten and certainly humiliated.

Men crowded around her, their religious robes brushing up against her as they shouted her sins for all to hear.

She was not one of them. She was not like them. She did not follow their rules. She must be killed.

They took her to Jesus with judging indignation toward her, and pride in themselves for digging up such a wretched creature.

“Look at this woman! Look what she has done in the face of our God! Shouldn’t we kill her?”

He ignored them, perhaps hoping that they might grow a brain cell and realize their own sinfulness and hypocrisy.

They pushed him.

He sighed. He looked at them, piercing through their bone and marrow and straight into their soul.

“Whichever one of you has never done anything wrong, you go right ahead and punish this woman.”

At least something woke them up from their murderous stupor. They slunk off, perhaps not quite as blind to the hateful and judgmental state of their own heart.

These type of men were the only men that Jesus would ever condemn. That he would ever get angry at, horrified at their actions and thoughts, at their freedom to use His Father’s Name as an excuse to bludgeon others with their power and piety.

The woman, along with others in her not-so-holy world – Zaccheus, Matthew, and many more – they were the ones that Jesus would visit, would love, would dine with. None of those that he called to be his disciples were chosen from The Religious Crowd. His followers were the ones who understood the huge gravity of Jesus’ Love. They were the ones who would go to great expense to worship their Savior, because they recognized the sin in their own heart and knew that they needed Him desperately.

Jesus loved the outcast. The sinner. The World. Jesus was much more disturbed by the sin within the hearts of those proclaiming His Father’s name than He ever was with those who had yet to meet Him.

And I would wager a guess that the same is true today: Jesus is much more concerned with the sin that is in my heart than He is about the sin in the heart of a woman who doesn’t claim His Name.

Today, The World is in the center of the circle. Some who claim the Name of Jesus Christ crowd around it, picketing it, condemning it with judgmental Facebook statuses, sending out fear-mongering emails, boycotting it, railing against it every chance they get, and discussing how to clean it up and squash it at all costs.

I see it happen every day, and it hurts me. It keeps me up at night, wondering what to say and how to stop it.

I catch myself doing it, and it cuts me even deeper. Maybe I don’t put it on Facebook, but I spend too much time thinking about the actions of others, when I have enough to deal with in my own heart to keep me busy for the rest of my life.

I can’t help but think that Jesus would probably be choosing to dine with those being condemned, rather than those doing the condemning. And if Jesus were a picketer, His biblical track record suggests that He just might be picketing some of today’s Christians.

The Woman – the one back in the circle. Do you think that she ever wanted to go back into those religious men’s Synagogue? Did their pointing out of her sins and the condemnation thereof bring her to repentance?

Um, no.

If I had been her, I would have been so traumatized by religion that I would have found whatever was opposite of it and run that way.

Condemnation of sin by other sinful humans will never save souls – Jesus didn’t even condemn the woman caught in sin – how much less should we?

The Woman

“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
~ John 8:11

Jesus’ love saves souls.

Loving others well will help them find Jesus’ love.

Jesus loved people first, then encouraged them to live lives worthy of the calling they received – something they were desperately driven to do because of Jesus’ love for them, not to earn or deserve Jesus’ love.

He called us to be a light to the world. He did not mean for us burn people with our light, and he certainly didn’t mean for us to shoot fiery darts in every direction and call it “light.” Let’s be the kind of light that attracts and brightens the world, not burns and damages it.

Busying ourselves with pointing out The World’s sins and debating over the comparative depth of other people’s transgressions will only blind us to the sin in our own hearts, and that’s what Jesus wants us to deal with.

Let Jesus handle their hearts. Let Jesus handle our hearts. And let’s get The World out of the middle of the circle and into our homes to dine with us.

Love well, my friends.

29 thoughts on “Love Well.

  1. This is beautifully written, Rachel. And you are so right. It’s amazing really, that we can see anything past the plank in our own eyes, much less point out the speck in our brother and sister. It’s part of His amazing grace that we aren’t all smoking embers, burned from Holy wrath. How great the Father’s love for us that we should be called children of God.

  2. While I always enjoy your humor, this was a timely message and I loved it! I see the hate and judgement that many Christians toss around so easily and it makes me shudder with shame. Some of these same people will lie on their taxes, or keep the $20 given to them in error at the register, etc. but then carry on about someone else’s sin because in THEIR eyes, the other person’s sin is worse. My desire is to SHOW people my religion by my actions.

    1. Thanks! I think that some people think that only like-minded people see what they post on Facebook, because perhaps those are the only people who comment. But if we all stopped to think for a minute about the vast reach of our words on Social Media, it’s a scary thought indeed.

  3. A wonderful message, Rachel, and well written as always. Kathy is right too. I know people who have separated themselves from organizations because of what they have seen people in those organizations do versus what they think the people in the organizations ought to be doing. People are definitely watching.

    1. Yes, that’s so true. Sometimes we have no concept of the true reach of our words, nor of how much our thoughts show out in our actions.
      I know I don’t.

  4. I consider myself a Christian, and was raised Mennonite, but I suspect there are things you and I would not agree on, theologically speaking. But we can absolutely agree on this. Jesus is about love, not judgement. The same should be true for everyone, Christian or no.

  5. That was beautiful. I fund the last half hard to read but only because of the tears in my eyes. It has felt for so long that our “bible belt” has become a “bible noose”. I agree the point that you made that it would make that woman or any person since turn and run in the opposite direction if they thought that THAT respresentation was the only and true idea of God’s love for us.

  6. Great message and to drive it home for me, that woman looks like Katie Perry whose father says the most vile things about her and he is her earthly father. I certainly don’t agree with her choices but if she were my child I wouldn’t vilify her. I would love her and lovingly disagree with her choices. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! I must be in the dark ages, because I have not read anything that Katy Perry’s dad has said about her, but great example.

  7. Amen!

    Though it is a complex issue… Jesus certainly called out religious hypocrites who follow rituals in detail but didn’t care for the poor, widows, orphans etc. I think there’a a heck of a lot of “you’re poor because you’re a bad person/ I disagree with your choices so you don’t deserve help” going on. In England, there’s a horrible thing where disabled people are all being assessed for work and harassed if they can’t get work. That sort of grinding down those who are already down needs Christians (and others) to fight against, but it’s against policies, not people.

    Also, companies being immoral. I firmly believe that things like paying employees a living wage, paying a decent amount of tax to countries that they operate in, having good working conditions (even in overseas factories) are a moral duty for companies.

    Anyway, before I write a post myself… just to say, this was a great post!

  8. I appreciate this post. Our dear friend who passed away in November, used to write almost weekly posts about issues like this. And I miss them. I miss the reminders of how to love those who don’t “know the way more perfectly”. It does hurt to see my friends in the bible belt speak so haughtily of others. I don’t want to be like that. I want to live like Christ. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. As missionaries overseas we often hear things like “oh those people wouldnt be in that situation if they just worked harder” or “similar senseless comments. North America and other first world places are not blessed in resources/ etc because they WORKED for it… because trust me…. the people we work with are working twice as hard as anyone I have ever met- Gods blessings are not given based on what WE do… or dont do. His mercy and grace far outweigh anything we could do to earn it and His decision to offer them to us is in no way dependent on us earning it. Any of us. whether we are Southern Baptist born & bred or a struggling young person who has no idea who Christ is or what unconditional love might look like. Christ offers each of us the same grace, forgiveness, hope, love and justice, regardless of what we have done or said. My heart is heavy for folks who think they know Christ and yet, obviously have not experienced his overwhelming LOVE in their lives, as they judge those around them, or proclaim that others are getting what they “deserve” when something bad or tragic happens. My heart is heavier for those who do not yet know Christ, and may never because of comments made by so called Christians. May we as Christians be an overwhelming force of Love and Hope and Justice and Grace in a world that too often fails to provide even glimmers of these things. Thanks for this post Rachel- this has been heavy on my heart lately as well and Im glad to know it is on others hearts as well. Perhaps together we can make a difference …. even if just for one.

    1. Thank you for your perspective! I’m sure a day overseas would change a lot of people’s hearts – I wish we all could experience that!

  10. I lost my godmother last week, she was the most Christian person I have ever met , to see her quiet faith and the way she never passed judgement or spoke badly of anyone was inspirational . Iam sure there were times when it was difficult and she struggled but she made it seem easy with God and her beautiful spirit…I have spent the week wishing I could be more like her…I hope one day I will achieve the wonderful grace and Christian heart she was so blessed with.

    1. I’m so sorry!! I will be praying for you as you mourn. How wonderful to have such a beautiful example of God’s love, but so sad to lose her.

  11. Amen!

    Yesterday I was at the library and saw a guy wearing a T-shirt with “God is coming. And, boy is he p***ed.”
    It really made me sad.

  12. LOVED this post! It was so full of grace (which I often lack when dealing with this situation) yet very straightforward. I think this might be my favorite of all time.

  13. I have to say, before I comment, in the interest of full disclosure, I do not self-identify as a Christian. I was raised Catholic (as I have written about at some length on my blog) and in the end found the dogma and contradictions to be too much for me to bear. With all of that out in the open, I want to say this: What a beautiful post. This is exactly what I work to convey in my life. That it’s not about judgement and condemnation but rather about forgiveness (of both the self, and others) and unconditional love. This is what Jesus stood for. This is what he came here to teach us about. This is what he offers humanity. And somehow, it is horribly twisted and almost lost… It gladdened my heart to read this today. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Michelle. Yes, it is horribly twisted by some, but thankfully, there are still many who hold dear to the call to love. And for this, I am so grateful.

  14. Sometimes old posts need to be re-read. This one feels like it should be read daily. Or more. I keep finding myself saying “I’m a Christian but not like that!” And I hate having to add the disclaimer. Love. Love God, love others. That’s it. =)

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