Tuesday, April 16, 2013

pursuing an adulterous woman

We recently had a message at our church concerning the woman caught in adultery from John 8. The classic, over-quoted, awesome story of grace and stone-casting. As I continued to think about the story, and discussing it in our men's group, I was reminded of something that God has really been working on deepening my understanding about how He works... I am being constantly reminded and assured of God's pursuit of us.

Think about this woman, clearly she is not living right. We don't know how deeply involved with adulterous affairs she is, or what else she might be involved with, but we know that she was caught in the act of adultery and paraded out for all to see. She was likely ashamed and deeply embarrassed by her life. She likely felt, like so many of us often do, that she was worthless, and unable to be forgiven. But here's the thing, God is jealous for His children, and He will do whatever it takes to bring them back into a right relationship with Him. It is His desire for each of us to join in to this relationship with Him, and He calls us to come to Him, just as we are, with all of our filth and failures and cast our burdens on Him. But we are resistant to this call because we feel we are unworthy of this relationship, we have to clean up first, we have to make ourselves able to stand before God. We want the forgiveness, but we don't want to display our dirt. So, we run away from God, trying to find a way to make ourselves clean.
When we do this, at some point, in His own timing, God will choose to pursue us. He will begin to call us back to Him, and as we resist, His call will get louder... and when God decides it is time for you to come back to Him, He will use whatever means He has to get to you. In this particular case, God desired this woman to return to Him, but due to the depth of her sin and shame, I don't believe there is any way she would have approached God to seek forgiveness. She was "too dirty". So, God went on the pursuit... He used the zeal, pride, arrogance, and outright sin of the scribes and Pharisees to go get this woman, in the very act of her sin, and bring her before God. It was not the intent of the scribes and Pharisees to be used by God in this way. They were unaware of their part as pawns in this great act, they were hatching their own scheme to trick and discredit Jesus. They were busy focusing on their own self-interest to notice the hand of God. So, using the unaware pawns, approaching the woman at the depth of her sin, God brought the woman to Himself. He knew the deepest secrets and pain that present in her life, her sins were not secret to Him. He listened as the charges of the self-righteous were leveled against her, and He responded. He judged her, righteously, as a sinner, and never downplayed that fact, but He also righteously judged the crowd around her. He had called her to this place to let her know that He knew who she was, and what she had done, but to respond with love. He called onto the carpet the sin of those around her, and they fled. The woman recognized Jesus as Lord, and called Him accordingly. She received a forgiveness that she desired, yet believed was not possible. Not because she was good enough, but because God is. He pursued her, used the path that was available to Him, brought her before Him, and extended grace to her. She left the encounter changed.

This is the God I serve, one who will pursue those He loves, through whatever means possible, into and through a literal Hell. A God who knows the depth of my sin and chooses to love me anyway. A God who places the crowd back where they should be. A God who extends grace to all who declare Him as Lord. A God who looks at me and says, "Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more."

What God do you serve?

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