Drop the Rock

“When they kept on questioning him, he [Jesus] straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.'” –John 8:7

“Drop the rock,” God said to me tonight in small group. He wasn’t angry or disappointed; He grabbed the hand that was pointing fingers and gently closed it up in His. “Haley, you’ve had three weeks in your favorite place of amazing speakers sharing powerful messages about loving over judging. Drop the rock.”

This catchy but impactful phrase comes from our recent Inside Out series, Judgment Call. The first week we heard the story of the adulterer in John 8. The religious leaders of the day were ready to stone her to death for her shortcomings and screw-ups until Jesus showed up at the scene. “Sure, you can stone her, but only if you’ve never sinned.” Gradually, everybody walked away until Jesus was the only one left to condemn her (which He chose not to do).

If you remember the scene in Parent Trap where Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan put rocks in Meredith’s backpack and she starts carrying it down the mountain… imagine that’s me walking into school everyday. My backpack is full of rocks. I come armed with stones for the stoners and plenty others: the angry kids, the partying crowd, the ones whose vocabulary seems to be comprised entirely of words I would prefer to bleep out. I am practically made of rocks. I’m like that guy in Fantastic 4.

Tonight, I found myself listening to one of my friends in small group and straight up judging her. When I got this whisper from God reminding me to, you know, not do that, I was blown away by His grace. Being my own worst critic, it would have been easy to turn right around and criticize myself way too harshly for aiming my rock at this girl. But God didn’t throw a rock at all. He chose to give her grace just as He chose to give me grace when I couldn’t find any for either of us. He loved both of us at the same level as He reminded me that she and I are on the same playing field. We all have junk. There is no ranking of sin; it’s equal in His eyes, just as our worth as His daughters is equal in His eyes. I am not better than her, so I needed to stop looking to criticize and start looking to love.

God is the only One with a right to throw rocks. He is the only perfect, holy King of the universe, completely above anything we know or understand. The only reason we’re called blameless and forgiven is that He chooses not to blame us and loves enough to forgive us. He is the ultimate judge but He puts that on hold for mercy to do its thing.

What if Christians were the same way? What if we had grace that was not like a bank account, but like a well that will never run dry? What if we looked past people’s problems to their potential? What if no one could out-sin our forgiveness? That’s the Jesus we claim to represent, but we typically do a pretty lousy job.

Let’s be honest here. It’s time to drop the rock.

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Faithful

God is faithful.

When I think about the baptisms I’ve witnessed, the videos of friends’ stories that I’ve cried over. The people I grew closer to over difficult circumstances. Other difficult circumstances that remained difficult circumstances. The inspirational words, pictures, and companies that found me at just the right time. The regrets I have about how stupid I was as a freshman. Where I was at this time last year versus where I’m at now, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. My trip to Haiti this summer. The kids I volunteer with at church.

That’s what it boils down to. God is faithful.

He will never leave us or forget us. He will never abandon us to try and do this life thing on our own. Even when we don’t understand, when we don’t get to go on the mission trip, when we don’t succeed at the thing we’ve been wanting to succeed at for forever: His plan prevails.

When I start to doubt this, baptisms are the first thing that comes to mind. At our church, people getting baptized film their stories, and the videos are shown before the dunking itself. Two of my very close friends have been baptized in the past six months, and whenever I find myself wavering, I think about that. I think about sitting in the audience and crying like a baby. I think about how I met both of those people, the light God has shown me through them. Their stories have intersected with mine in wondrously beautiful ways, and it reminds me that there is an Author up there. Even on the nights spent crying over the phone, the days when I was almost too exhausted to say hello: He was writing our stories, scripting them together to build a Kingdom that will always remain infinitely greater than anything my two hands could construct.

God is faithful. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, or I don’t see it working in my life. But there will be a giant playlist of baptism videos in heaven, because in the end, everything is okay. God is faithful. And that’s so much more beautiful than anything we could ever want or need.