Casting Stones

Finger

Here comes a string of cliché’s and Bible verses:

There are no winners in the blame game. You can point a finger, but there are three pointing back at you. Do you really think you’re perfect? Are you ready to cast a stone? Don’t judge others, or you will be judged.

When Christian fundamentalists start railing against Harry Potter or homosexuals or Islam, we might like to set them down and start talking about their questionable entertainment choices, or the amount of wine they drink, or the way they spend their money.

Is anyone in a position to say anything about another person’s free choices? Can we judge another person’s motives? We’re all on a journey. We all struggle.

But what are the implications of this perspective? Is there a danger in keeping our fingers to ourselves? 

Implication #1: Sin is ignored

If no one can point out sin without being considered a hypocrite or a hater, should we just stop doing it? Should we turn a blind eye when a pastor commits adultery just because we laughed at a sitcom that made comedy out of an adulterous situation?

Can we hold certain Christians to a one standard, but ourselves to another? Should we?

Implication #2: Sin is minimalized or dismissed

When did we decide that all sins were created equal? Would we really say that a murder is on par with cheating on a Spanish test?

Sure, all sins place us in equal disobedience before God, making us equally guilty, but who says that all sins are recognized or judged the same? Not the Bible.

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Matt 12:31

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. I Cor. 6:18

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” John 19:11

Implication #3: Sin brings isolation

If sin is a private issue between individuals and God, there is a danger of isolation. We don’t point out other peoples’ sins, and we tend to keep our sins to ourselves. Maybe we get together with close friends and hold each another accountable, but what about the Church as whole?

Are we allowed to talk about sin in general terms, exposing a common enemy? Or are we so afraid of sounding unloving or judgmental that talking about sin becomes more taboo than doing it?

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to pray as a group. Our Father, not my Father. Our sins, not my sins. Can we be considered a Body if we don’t share the same concern for sin in our personal and corporate experience?

Jesus didn’t just die to save us from the eternal consequences of sin, but for the experience of sin itself.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. I John 3:8

When Jesus walked the earth, he spoke truth into a convoluted world. Like a man walking through a dirty room with a vacuum cleaner and dust rag, putting things in order, Jesus healed sick bodies, extracted demons, and even raised the dead. Basically he was saying, “This is how the world should be.”

When he left, he told his disciples to do the same. He was the light of the world, so they should be lights in the world. He was holy, so they should be holy.

The Church should present the world with a contrast, a challenge, a vision of what God intended when he made man in his image and likeness. Not just a bunch of people with “not perfect, just forgiven” bumper stickers.

Imagine a family where brothers and sisters never point out dangers or mistakes. No, sorry, that’s the parents’ job. Imagine a sports team where the players are afraid to challenge one another in things like practice or fitness. No, sorry, that’s the coach’s job.

When Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, he called them “sick.” He wasn’t acting like some cool Christian at a bar, trying to show unbelievers how normal and non-judgmental he could be. When he challenged the crowd not to throw stones, he turned to the adulteress and said “Go, and sin no more.”

In my opinion, love is the solution, but love must be combined with a vision that goes beyond just hugging people into heaven. If we really love people and have a vision for a whole and healthy society, we cannot endure sin.

It is a poison. It is a distortion. And Christ will always oppose it.

6 thoughts on “Casting Stones

  1. Hey, Barnts!
    Just so you know, I haven’t missed a post – read every word, consider every topic. Thanks for putting forth the energy and time. You present several implications; the one that grieves me to see is that “talking about sin becomes more taboo than doing it.” Authentic, holy love is disarmed by this unspoken attitude. Grace and peace.

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    • Haven’t missed a post? Dang! Thanks for that. I enjoy the discipline. Keeps my mind leaning toward topics and working through thoughts, for better or worse.

      Yes. Authentic, holy love. This is something that the Church would do well to explore. Our postmodern culture has hijacked “love” and reworked it. I want the Church to take it back for the glory of God.

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  2. Hey John,
    I think somewhere we’ve not only started comparing each other as standards for living, but made humanity the center for the standard. The “everybody sins, your sin is just a different flavor than mine mentality” would seem to either make humanity the standard, and put us all on the bell curve as a bunch of “F” students, or to neutralize accountability/shaming. The latter, though, has to either ignore God, or God’s grace is extremely cheapened.

    In my experience, people have cheapened grace to an extreme. So how do we help them see the truth? I usually try to point out that what many generally consider Salvation (escape from eternal damnation) is only a part–extremely important, nonetheless–and is a means to the true end: the restoration of an eternal, mutual self-giving relationship between the Trinity and humanity.

    And then highlighting why, with this understanding, it is then important to be Holy as God is Holy. I always pull in a little CS Lewis (The Great Divorce) to point out that Heaven is about that relationship, not escaping damnation, and that for many people, though they’re afraid of hell, heaven isn’t a place where they’d currently (and probably eternally) want to be. Though Lewis seems to have believed in Purgatory–I’m making no personal judgment on the idea at this time–and says that God can work with the smallest trace of love for Him as long as one exists. But then one still has to allow Him to use it and work in one’s life.

    Anyway, was wondering if you had any thoughts on what beliefs should replace the errant ones you’ve pointed out.

    And then what about the “Progressive Christian” who selectively chooses he doesn’t accept the Scriptural verses you’ve thrown out there to correct?

    While I believe what your post says is true, I think that, sadly, the audience that would actually receive it and be challenged is an extremely selective group of Bible-believing Christians.

    That is to say, “well done, but the vacation is over. We need more Barnts.”

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    • Any thoughts on what beliefs should replace the errant ones I’ve pointed out . . . let’s see . . .

      I would start with a belief in hope. As you say, we’ve sort of given up. To err is human, right? When we sin, we shrug and say “We’re only human.” From God’s perspective, humans were made to reflect his image and likeness. We should be able to say “To see us is to see Christ,” like Jesus said, “To see me is to see the Father.” Unfortunately, we don’t think of Jesus as a true example for us, not entirely, because we say, “Well, he was God, so…” But Jesus said, “The things that I do, you will also do. And greater things.” Our vision for humanity is too small, so we live too small. The gospel expands our view, giving us a hope for our personal lives, our communities, and ultimately the whole earth. It transforms us.

      Secondly, I would encourage a belief in the Body. If one of us suffers, we all suffer. If one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. I think our individualistic mindset (probably a result of living in America) prompts us to think of a “personal Lord and Savior” and not our inclusion into a living, spiritual Body of believers. That means purpose. That means accountability. Just like any other Body (a sports team, movie crew, expedition, etc.). I think the devil is pretty good at breaking Christ into pieces, then breaking those pieces into pieces. Our humility in the face of sin will go a long way in restoring our unity in the Spirit. Confession. Forgiveness. Healing.

      Did you mean “We need more, Barnts” or “We need more Barnts”? Ha!

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  3. Sin came into the world when we took a bite of the knowledge of Good and Evil. The only salvation is the sacrifice of Christ.

    As noted:
    And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Matt 12:31
    And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. Luke 12:10

    Then flip back to Luke 6: 27-42. This is what Jesus had to say about love, judgement, and forgiveness. Endure sin, and forgive it, as it has been forgiven for you.

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