But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her.”Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (John 8:6-8). What does the posture of Jesus signal about our ability to reach the broken? Based on Jesus’s willingness to stoop, we can consider three significant response to the broken:
“You are not alone.”
“You are loved.”
Why did Jesus stoop, stand, and stoop again? We can only speculate, but he may have stood just in case some overzealous young Pharisee missed his point and planned on doing some rock throwing.
And what was he drawing on the ground?
“For all we know, he was drawing a smiley face. The powerful revelation is that the God of the universe—the only one who should have been genuinely offended, who could have postured himself as judge and executioner—literally lowers himself to her level and becomes her only friend, protector, and advocate. Yes, he does challenge her lifestyle and asks her to stop, but not until he has postured himself as an advocate. This is key. He addresses her head only after he has her heart” (Halter and Smay, The Tangible Kingdom, 45).
This is where I see the church needing a new variety of love in the 21st century. Jesus told her to go and leave her life of sin.
Perhaps our best approach for those experiencing moral failure is simply to say, “We’re going to stay with you through it. We won’t abandon you. All I want you to do today is keep trying to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. I’m going to stay with you, but right now I want you to keep pursuing the Lord with all you have.”
When someone is caught in sin, the posture of Jesus says we must take the long view of a person’s life and trust the Spirit to do the work Jesus promised would be done.
Paul reminds us in Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more!”
“You are welcome in this place!”
Most of the time it’s not our beliefs that need to be changed (though they may need to be examined), it’s our posture. Jesus stooped!
Welcoming the broken will always be messy. But if church isn’t messy, maybe we have to ask if we are a church or not. When we stop being messy, we have a bigger problem.
Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” That tells me that we have to find a way to hold the integrity of the Gospel while at the same time pursuing the broken.
The posture of caring and listening are the best resources at our disposal to build ministries that help the broken find healing and forgiveness.