Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kickin' the Tires

There are so many things that I wish I had known about Jesus growing up. I think that some of them could have significantly changed my later experiences. I am not saying that my journey would have been altered by much, but some things could have reassured me in some dark hours. Some things would have made it easier to face a holy God in times of need. Instead, I often hid in shame thinking that grace and mercy were extended to other people, but not a girl who willfully walked away from Jesus.

I was reading about the woman caught in adultery, John 8. I deliberately read it without the Jesus-is-writing-on-the-ground-what-could-it-be emphasis. Since we don’t know, I don’t want to detract from the point of the story…this sinful woman and these sinful men experience the same grace. I like to think that the writing that Jesus did was, as we call it in Texas, just kickin’ the tires. It was a waiting game. Jesus has this test under control.

Before the interruption, He was sitting down and teaching. This situation arose that was meant to trick Him. Jesus’ response…kick the tires, calm, cool, collected. I think a special note should be given to that fact that He is not freaking out about this woman’s sin. Let’s pause here.

It is really comforting for me to think of Jesus as just sitting there calmly knowing about my sin but not alarmed. He knows my heart. He is just waiting for me. We do not have an earthly model of this. I did not grow up to expect someone taking my rebellion into stride. Remember doing something wrong in your house? We were not spared the rod.

Jesus does not pull out the flyswatter when you do something wrong. He, also, does not let you go without acknowledging your guilt. Just like this woman called in for adultery, our reliance on the mercy of Jesus spares our lives.

So, there He is, writing on the ground. Then He rises for the first time, only to say, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7, NRSV).” Then He just bent back down, into kickin’ the tires stance.

We know from hearing this a hundred times that the scribes and Pharisees leave one by one. Jesus turned a matter of legalism (Mosaic law), to a heart issue. Isn’t that what our Savior does? In the gospels, we see that He turns every regulation and law into a conversation of intent and faith.

The next time that Jesus straightens up, it is to clarify that no one is judging this woman. Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again (John 8:11, NRSV).”

That is what we have. We have a Redeemer who is aware of every single one of our shortcomings, every single sin and He chooses not to condemn us. That is so awesome. As women, we know that there are people out there who are waiting for you to mess up. If you have children then you don’t have to look very far. When we are not the poster children for “I’ve got it all under control”, we are somehow messing up. Not Jesus. John 8:15, NRSV, “You judge by human standards; I judge no one.”

I can only imagine how my life would have been different if I had viewed Jesus as on my side. Instead, for the first half of my life, I saw Him as rigid and condemning. If I had taken John 3:17, NRSV, to heart, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”, I might have understood that the role I was assigning was not even close to what Jesus was trying to accomplish.

This is the most constructive of all crafty measures that Satan can put into our lives. There can be an expectation that we will disappoint Jesus, because we do sin. Instead of existing inside of no condemnation and complete freedom, we are shackled to our nature with the refusal to settle into our new creation. It is like moving from a trailer to a mansion, but instead of moving into your perfect new home you just park the old one on the front lawn and live there instead.

Let’s move into the big house today.

Father, thank you for showing us who you are everyday in so many ways. Thank you for allowing us to come to you without fear of condemnation, only to rest in your grace. Let us meet you there today.

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