The Stone-thrower’s Gospel

Scandals, controversies and opinions.

Gay marriage. Abortion. The Noah movie. Mark Driscoll. You may have noticed that none of these topics ever get addressed here at Sixty Stadia. There are those who will say that this is a failure to be relevant; on the contrary, this is an intentional decision to, as Pastor Brian Houston says, keep the main thing the main thing.

There seems to be so much stone throwing in the religious world at the moment that I do wonder if someone needs to open up a quarry to keep up with demand; it might be a quicker way to make money than writing controversial blog posts to try and generate more revenue from Google ads. It makes my soul sad that opening my RSS feeder the vast majority of the anger, bitterness and complaining is usually from what would be termed the Christian blogosphere.

If only Jesus left us some really clear instruction on how we treat people who make choices that go against our traditions and laws. If only He’d encountered a woman caught in the very act of wild, adulterous, sex and then thrown in front of Him, probably dressed in little more than a bed sheet. Then we’d know how to behave towards others, right?

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
– John 8:7-9

I have heard so many arguments in favour of judging people and condemning them, so many thinly veiled and weak covers for acting in this way but at the end of the day? It doesn’t seem that Jesus leaves things unclear. ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ Having seen the quantity of stones thrown just in the last week alone, I’m looking forward to the outrageously large stampede of perfect people arriving at church this Sunday.

It’s fascinating in this story that the first thing that Jesus does is disarm the critics. He withdraws the right for them to have their say on this woman’s eternity. Why? Because they spoke with their own voices of hypocritical condemnation, not his voice of love. Then, once He has silenced the storm of condemnation and judgement, He speaks to the woman herself.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, 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.”
– John 8:10-11

After silencing the aggressive religious critics He Himself withholds condemnation and sends her off with the instruction to sin no more. There are those who say that their aggressive and condemning blogging is a call to repentance; well here is Jesus calling someone to repentance – after first withholding condemnation. Let’s take our lessons from the master.

Christian bloggers and commentators? It’s time to stop with all the constant criticism and judging. Want to promote the gospel? Tell someone Jesus loves them. Tell someone Jesus loves them with such an unspeakable tsunami of passionate love that He would do anything to see them saved. Anything. Like die a violent death with His arms stretched wide and thorns digging deep into His head.

Want to promote the gospel? Spend more time writing about the one you love than the things you hate. Spend more time becoming known for who you stand for than who you stand against. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ and to stand up for the widows, the orphans, the poor, the oppressed. We are called to take His love into a hurting world.

Not broadcasting something doesn’t mean not having opinions on things; honestly? My mind is full of opinions. I’m an opinionated person but the thing that must override all of those opinions is the message of the cross. Our opinions are just that – opinions – some will probably be right, some wrong, but none must get in the way of the message.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2

The world isn’t going to be transformed by people queuing up to throw more stones but by people dedicated to the most radical, subversive, beautiful, cause in history. When we take our focus off judging others and instead work on becoming more Christ like ourselves, our potential to reach and change our worlds is limitless.

Let’s put a stop to the anger and reclaim the message of love. Let’s be known for the love of our saviour not the loudness of our opinions.

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Photo from Alexxx Malev, used under Creative Commons Licence.

4 Comments

  • northeastdj says:

    Very good read Pete. Love the line “Tell someone Jesus loves them with such an unspeakable tsunami of passionate love that He would do anything to see them saved.” The biggest issue today is Christians attempting to Judge the actions of others. We are called to ‘love our neighbours’ and this can only be achieved by showing that love by accepting people regardless of what they do or who they are. Salvation is all about what Christ (from Love) did for us and not about what we do good or bad.

  • You hit the nail on the head there Pete. As really nothing else really matters. We have all pointed the finger at someone and forget there’s three pointing back at ourselves.

  • MrGee says:

    Just do it. It’s really that simple! Wether we agree with the article or not, wether we think it’s unbalanced or spot on doesn’t even matter…just do it. Love people, hate sin and speak with truth and grace wirh the aim of bringing Jesus to the lost. The truth sets people free especially if spoken in love. However the truth in action is what we are called to be and do. Are you serving those people around you? In truth and grace with love? Those people God has put in your way at church and outside of church. That’s your world! Let’s not theorise about it or just have a strong opinion on it…JUST DO IT.

  • Jamie Kelly says:

    I am transgender and five years ago was denied the hormones I had previously been prescribed. I started feeling self hatred and started self harming. Doctors ignored me. After a year I had no love or compassion. I wrote angry letters and despite them talking of me killing myself, police silenced me by arresting me. I was not allowed to say I am suicidal as a result of doctors actions and I need help. The result was I tried to kill myself. For the things I wrote in a letter at a time when I was feeling suicidal, I have been given a life sentence of no help by the NHS.
    I wish it was Jesus judging me. I feel that Jesus would have shown tolerance of my differences, and I think tolerance is so important. It could make the world a far better place.

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