19 December 2013

Change: it looks like God's love.

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11 NLT)

You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (John 8:15, 16 NLT)

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Christ allowed the Pharisees' own consciences to condemn them. He didn't condemn.

He did not condemn the woman: she stood accused by a horde of those who were SURE they were the righteous ones. But Christ, the truly righteous One, didn't condemn.

It was the "faithful", the "righteous", the law-of-Moses-abiding leaders who accused. Christians today are quick to point out the Pharisees and all they did wrong, but how often do we stop and think: Whose pattern does my behavior match: Jesus', or the Pharisees'?

The only ones Christ spoke harshly to were those who held themselves up as an example. The only ones He ever treated with anything but kindness were those who were robbing the poor in the temple by selling animals for sacrifice at double and triple the cost. In both cases, He was dealing with those who had a hand in actively hindering those seeking God.

I know from sad experience that as soon as I begin to constrain, condemn, or accuse, the Spirit of God is grieved, and flees. But when I take a deep breath and speak ONLY in love the words God gives me to say--no condemnation, no pointing out what seems to me to be sin--then the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of my loved ones, and they always know exactly what it is that would make God, who loves them so much, the happiest. When I carry the love of God in my heart, good things happen. When I operate out of fear or the idea that I'm on a moral high ground, I'm only serving the enemy.

Gentleness. Meekness. Love unfeigned. Entreaty. Long-suffering. Patience.

If we, as believers, EVER want ANYTHING to change in the LGBT communities, it's gotta happen one understanding, one friendship, one outpouring of God's love at a time. He will speak to them whatever it is that He wants heard. (And heaven forbid I should ever say what that might be.)

I know . . . from unconscionably long, painful, personal experience . . . that the only way for God to come in is for US to get our damning opinions, the precepts and philosophies of our fathers, out of the way. For us to be a conduit for Him, instead of taking His law unto ourselves.  Like to a shell dishabited, only there then can there be place for Him to dwell. I finally met Jesus because I prayed for friends, true friends, and over the course of about two years, God dumped a bunch of radically-obedient believers in my lap. One by one, the love of God they radiated, the reality of Jesus to them in their lives, changed mine.  A couple decades of well-intentioned and pleasant instruction in heart-warming stories and powerful emotionalism couldn't do it.  Only Jesus.

I'm so glad that it's not my place to do anything but love ALL others, to treat them as I would wish to be treated, and leave everything else up to Him.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!