Focus 40 Day 12: Extreme Living – Reaching without Condemnation
Prayer Focus: Pray for your church’s effectiveness in reaching – 1 Corinthians 9:22
Extreme Living—Reaching without Condemnation
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
—John 8:3–5 (NIV)
I LOVE THE “NOW WHAT DO YOU SAY?” question that theologians posed to Jesus two thousand years ago. Many times, lurking behind their questions were ulterior motives. Oddly enough, as followers of Jesus, part of our daily mantra should be the same, “Now Jesus, what do you say?”
The pawn in the story is a woman, a sinful woman. And there’s plenty of condemnation going on—solid, deadly, stone-like condemnation. Unfortunately, many times throughout this world today, the assumption is that Christians are more like the condemners in this story than they are like Jesus.
My wife was talking to a new neighbor and in the course of the conversation was asked, “What does your husband do?” She answered, “He’s a Christian pastor.” The response? “Oh.” The “oh” was very simple to translate, because the person asking was one who knew what it felt like to be condemned.
Condemnation is a powerful weapon that usually results in beating a person down; a weapon which few are qualified to wield. When it comes to reaching the world with the message of Jesus, I find condemnation counterproductive. Far too often this weapon is exerted on those who are already beaten down in life, on those who need just the opposite.
Jesus, now what do you say? Just one more time before I start my day, may I hear it again that I might be filled with your grace? “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Amen.
Rev. Kelly Philips, Church of God Missionary to Germany