Wisdom, grace, and compassion
For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3: 17
John 7:53 - 8:11, our reading for today with the Good Book Club, has the story of the "woman taken in adultery." A woman has been "caught" cheating with another man and is hauled by a vindictive crowd before Jesus. The prescribed punishment is stoning (death, in
other words). Jesus amazes the crowd (and us) with His calm, wisdom, and grace. He famously challenges anyone who is without sin to throw the first stone. They realize their hypocrisy and, one by one, they leave the area and only the woman is left with Jesus. Jesus says, "I do not condemn you; go and sin no more." Jesus does not let her off "easy." God in Christ does expect us to live in the knowledge of the Father’s love and call to be obedient to His requirements of love: "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God." God also calls us to remember our promises to be faithful in marriage, for instance, and to keep the promises we have made to God in all things.
God judges us and we will all stand before God's judgement. But, because there is such an incredible wideness to God's mercy, we are never fully outside of God's grace. How do we use God's judgement as a way to right ourselves, to move back into the path of God's grace-filled life, when we fall away, without feeling we are no longer worthy or only a "sinner"? God reminds us that we are forgiven but also calls us to "go, and sin no more." God's second chances are opportunities to live a Spirt-driven life, a life that grows in the long shadow of God's grace.