"...caught in the very act..."
"Teacher, they said to Jesus, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our Law Moses commanded
that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?" (John 8:4-5)
Who, me? Busted - caught in the act - gotcha! No mistake about this mess, Pete was the one guilty of shredding a piece of styrofoam in the middle of the floor. He stole it from the basement as I was unpacking a box and dropped a piece of styrofoam packing on the floor. It's actually a game he learned to play with me years ago when I was using the same styrofoam to build a model train layout in the basement. If I left a piece on the floor Pete would steal it. My part was to yell, "Hey, that's mine," which made him even more proud of himself as he scampered away with his prize. So, when I caught him this time, all I could do was say, "You win," pick up the pieces, and make a mental note to myself not to drop more styrofoam. As you can tell from the picture Pete has absolutely no remorse.
To catch someone in your life in the act of doing something hurtful to their own self or others is a difficult moment. It raises all sorts of challenging feelings such as fear, anger, sadness, betrayal, hurt, and more. Thoughts such as, "How could they do such a thing?" or "Surely I must be mistaken in what I saw or heard," cascade one on top of another. Sometimes the idea of confronting the one caught in the act is so daunting that we choose to ignore what we just observed or was made known to us. Maybe we're not sure we want to face the life changes that may occur as a result of facing the reality in front of us or maybe we're certain we'll be hurt more if we confront. Other times the anger and even rage that comes with the discovery can push us to the point of destroying relationship.
To confront sin is to build life, not destroy it. In the Gospel of John the leaders were trying to trap Jesus with their legal question and build a case for his destruction by bringing the adulterous woman to him. However, Jesus used the situation to make it clear to the leaders that God's purpose is to build, not destroy life by confronting the person caught in the act with the opportunity for change. Jesus told the woman that she was forgiven (not condemned) and should go and not sin anymore. God's forgiving, compassionate grace offers the sinner the opportunity to turn away from their hurtful actions, learn from their actions, and be healed. In other words, confronting sin can bring hope.
Too often times we can't see the hope so we're afraid to confront sin, especially our own sin. Sometimes we have to help others see the hurt they're causing when they can't or won't see it for themselves. Other times we need to catch our own selves in the act. In either case, there is hope. I pray that God will give me the courage to confront when necessary. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, WV
PS: I had a major glitch in my address data base so some of you might receive this twice and some of you might receive this who asked to be removed from the mailing list. I'm working on the problem and should have it cleared up by next week. I apologize for any inconvenience.
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.