It seems like most Christians really like a good controversy… We seem to thrive on news stories regarding the fallen brother, sister, or enemy caught in a scandal. We seek out the story about such lunacy as a red, disposable coffee cups and the people who hate them… From stories about former pastor, once shamed for prideful activity, or a reality star caught in an online adultery scandal, or Christians up-in-arms over holiday promotional items, or anyone of the “news” nuggets streaming from digital pens of “yellow” journalists trolling social media these days – we see a good scandal or pseudo-controversial tidbit scroll across our newsfeed, and we smell blood in the water.
Every time one of these stories breaks the unbeliever points the finger and says “See! Look how bad they are! Hypocrites!” That doesn’t surprise me. But what does is the amount of shameful criticism, hand-wringing, and finger-pointing I see posted on blogs, websites, and social media sites from so-called followers of Jesus. The collective abandonment from the accused is nearly audible. So many take to their site of choice and act in exactly the same way as the unbeliever – “See! Look how bad THOSE types of Christians are! We even question their salvation!”
Wait… What happened to “love one another” (1 John 3:11)? What happened to praying for one another, especially for those struggling with sin 1 John 5:15-16?
Instead of heeding those words, we pick up stones. In John 8, the Pharisees and teachers of the law bring Jesus a woman who is caught in the act of adultery. They ask the simple question: in light of the Old Testament law, which says she should die for her act of sin, what do you think we should do? In a brilliant and oft-quoted Scripture, Jesus says, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Look, I’m not for condoning sinful behavior or cultural nitpicking, but I am painfully aware that I am not too different from those who have been digitally flogged in the news media. I feel the words of James 4:8b-9… “Clean your hands, you sinners! Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” By myself, I can’t clean my hands. I can’t purify my own heart. It takes a supernatural act of God through Jesus Christ. I have to “draw near to God and resist the devil” through the Holy Spirit.
We like the controversy of other people’s sin because it shines the light on how dirty their hands are and distracts us from the mud caked beneath our fingernails. Fingernails that only become more wretched as we dig for stones to throw. I’m guilty of that too. I seek the distraction. But it’s wrong.
It’s time to drop the stones and drop to our knees in prayer. It’s time to pray for God to help us to examine the sin in our hearts that we have buried and hidden. It’s time to pray for those who are struggling with sin problems so deep that they have broken through to the surface. It’s time to pray for those who harbor prideful and judgmental attitudes. It’s time to pray that love rules in our hearts and that God would give us the wisdom to display that love in a way that honors Him.