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We Are All Drunk on Something

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I love how Jesus related to damaged and demoralized people. Don’t you?

A woman is caught in the act of adultery. In committing the act, she wrecks a home. She brings shame upon herself and her community. Then, pious men decide to publicize her shame to make an example of her. The man with whom she committed the act is not exposed, but that’s another issue for another time.

Concerning the woman, “Lawbreakers must not be tolerated,” they think. “She must be condemned for her behavior, cast out for her infidelities, shamed for her shameful act. She must be made into an example.”

This is what happens in a group of people who pride themselves on things like Sabbath keeping, personal piety, sound doctrine, but are lacking in love. A coliseum culture develops. Everyone rallies around a common enemy – the sinner. Robbers, evildoers, tax collectors, adulterers and adulteresses. And then the pouncing and the piling on and the mobbing. The shaming and the scolding and the disapproving. The calling out and the canceling.

What’s wrong with the world?

“Other people,” says the mob surrounding the adulteress. “What’s wrong with the world is other people…those who aren’t one of us.”

But Jesus does not participate in this. Instead, left alone with the adulterous woman, he simply says to her two things:

1. I do not condemn you.
2. Now leave your life of sin.

The sequence of these two sentences is everything.

Reverse the sequence and you’ll lose Christianity.

Reverse the sequence and you’ll also lose Jesus.

With Jesus, preemptive declarations of grace and love and no-condemnation establish the environment for conversations about truth, morality, and ethics. According to Jesus, there is no other way than this.

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Scott Sauls is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the author of several books including his latest, Irresistible Faith. He also writes weekly at scottsauls.com.