Are you an offender?
Even if you rationalize you weren’t trashing the Church (with a capital “C,” the overarching Church that Jesus established) or that you’re just admonishing the local church because of bad behavior that needs to be addressed, you might be an offender. Even if you rationalize you’re not trashing the church, just admonishing individuals, you might be an offender. After all, individuals make up the church, and individual churches make up the Church. Anything that offends or goes against the Church, offends and goes against Jesus.
Yes, that means when you talk about someone without going to her or him to find out the truth, choosing instead to trust your “reliable source” who conveyed the information to you. Or when you assume what someone’s intentions were. Or when you’re ready to set someone aside, shove him out the door, or throw virtual stones at him (often from the back side, because you’re too timid to stand and look at the person face-to-face when you do the stone-throwing).
You might rationalize you’re just “upholding biblical standards.” After all, you’re family…all in the body of Christ…so you need to take care of the body. Yes, you do, but sacrificing a member of that body isn’t caring for the body. Putting yourself under the authority of Jesus, and being intimate enough with him to know how to handle the person, relationship, and situation the way God directs you to handle it is caring for the body. When you harm someone in the body, you’re disrespecting Jesus. When you disrespect Jesus, you harm yourself.
Not harming someone isn’t the same as walking around putting on masks of niceness pretending everything is okay. That’s not consistent with Jesus either. Because we live in biblical community with one another, we are often expected to confront one another. Yet too often in the church, we mishandle confrontation and accountability. We handle things the way we want, the way we’re most comfortable handling them. We talk behind someone’s back, rally support from others, and question motives (except our own). We claim to live a faith without shame yet shame others. When we’re faced with information that possibly puts a chink in our stance, we refute it. We determine we’re right and no one can tell or show us differently.
What about Jesus? How much do you really trust him?
Do you trust him enough to carry the burden you’re carrying around? Enough to forgive the offense? Enough to put down the stones you’ve been throwing? Enough to rely on his courage to face someone? Enough to listen to someone with respect and patience? Enough to set aside your own preferences and assumptions?
Look Jesus in the eyes before you throw another stone with your actions, words, or thoughts. Are you willing to throw the stone at him?
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he went back to the Temple, and all the people came to him, and he sat and taught them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They forced her to stand before the people. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband. The law of Moses commands that we stone to death every woman who does this. What do you say we should do?” They were asking this to trick Jesus so that they could have some charge against him.
But Jesus bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they continued to ask Jesus their question, he raised up and said, “Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.” Then Jesus bent over again and wrote on the ground.
Those who heard Jesus began to leave one by one, first the older men and then the others. Jesus was left there alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus raised up again and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one judged you guilty?”
She answered, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.” (John 9:1-11)