“let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” john 8:7
“why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” luke 6:41
“do to others as you would have them do to you.” luke 6:31
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i have been reflecting a lot about these words from Jesus this week in light of our conversation about equality.
i think they are possibly the least-applied-passages-that-could-actually-change-the-church in the Bible.
honestly, it’s a little comical, how much time and energy has been spent picking apart passages about homosexuality, of which there are few, and women in leadership in church, of which they are even fewer. book after book and blog after blog have been written about those ones, that’s for sure.
i wonder how come we prefer those to Jesus’ powerful words in the sermon on the mount? how we’d much rather talk about who’s right & who’s wrong than live out the beatitudes? how we’d much rather spend time & energy defending what’s a sin and what’s not a sin than feeding the hungry or loving the lonely?
umm, i’m pretty sure of that answer (and i’m not certain of much): it’s a helluva lot easier.
laying down stones, worrying about our own logs & treating others how we long to be treated is some seriously heavy lifting. one of the things i love the most about the 12 steps & recovery is that people are focused on our own stuff, not someone else’s. one of the most important rules of the process is to stick with our own struggles, our own hopes, our own work and do what we can to stay on our side of the street as best we can.
it’s really quite beautiful. and freeing.
and really hard to do in human skin that loves to control.
control is a way to protect ourselves, to distract ourselves from the bigger work of looking at our own painful patterns that keep robbing us of life, of love.
but offering ourselves in humility is what Jesus told us we needed to do–to worry about our own logs instead of anyone else’s. to worry about the inside of our cups not the outside. to offer mercy instead of sacrifices to satisfy the law. to love our neighbor instead of judge our neighbor.
my theory is we’d much rather talk theology and ministry theory than be spiritually transformed ourselves. it’s a great distraction.
spiritual and personal transformation is painful. loving our neighbor is easier said than done. loving God & ourselves, sometimes even harder. reading blogs & defending positions is a piece of cake. looking at the logs in our own eyes–pride & control & ego & self-protection & a whole-bunch-of-other-character-defects–isn’t nearly as fun as defending a couple of Bible verses to the bitter end.
i also wonder for all who love using the Bible in every conversation, how come not much time is spent on passages that challenge us on greed? or power and control? or comfort and pride? or sacrifical love? or humility?
those ones aren’t nearly as fun to rattle on about because they are seriously convicting in our own lives, not just the lives of others.
i get the irony here of me being a hypocrite, of pointing the finger, of throwing stones in a blog post but that’s about not doing that. and i guess in this moment i would say “yep, i often am”; but i’m being convicted, too.
i can’t help but think that the world is crying out for hope while we’re talking about theology.
people are starving while we’re feeding on blog debates.
women & children are being violated while we’re haggling over whether a woman should be called “director” or “pastor.”
refrigerators are empty & electricity is getting turned off for people while we’re giving money to pay for flat screen TV’s.
if we layed down our stones and worried about the sin in our own lives, i have a feeling we’d be having radically different conversations out here.
if we tended to the forest in our own eye and didn’t give the speck in our brother’s another glance, i have a feeling we’d be plenty busy.
i think Jesus told us these important words for a reason. he knew we’d much rather throw stones & worry about others’ specks than be radically transformed.
the church has so much it can learn from the 12 steps and the incredible wisdom of the beatitudes. they embody an attitude of humility & mercy & meekness & purity of heart instead of an attitude of pride & judgment & control & division & finger pointing.
they help us lay down our stones.
they help us focus on our own logs.
they help us let go of needing to be in control or be “right.”
they help us be set free.
free to follow Jesus instead of defend Jesus.
free to learn instead of have all the answers.
free to listen instead of talk.
free to love instead of hate.
God, help us lay down our stones & worry about our own big ol’ logs so we–your body here on earth–can be wonderfully transformed.