Warm Up: Matthew 5:39, But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Stretching: John 8: 1-11
Running: I was running on a restored train trail in a suburb of a popular city in the U.S. that I’ll leave unnamed. It was a very pleasant Sunday afternoon, and there were lots of other folks using the trail and enjoying the day. Being an old farm boy who was brought up with manners, I acknowledged the people with a greeting as I (or they) went by. It didn’t take long to notice that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. People were less inclined here to respond or make eye contact with strangers even in a setting like this in broad daylight. After about the fifteenth time I greeted someone along the way and they didn’t respond, I decided I wasn’t going to waste my (short) breath trying to be polite. These people were obviously hardened criminals that wouldn’t recognize hospitality or generosity or kindness if it was a branch that hit them in the face. I set my glare on tunnel vision and off I went to show those rogues that…well, that I could be just like them.
The kingdom of God is a paradox. The Beattitudes make this point in the most beautiful language: The poor will be rich; the weak shall be strong; those who hunger will be filled, etc. My pastor has a wonderful saying that has been a life lesson to all of us who have sat under his teaching: “Respond in the opposite spirit”. It’s connected to the law of sowing and reaping. Those who give will get; those who are merciful, will be shown mercy; those who forgive others, will be forgiven, etc. In today’s story, Jesus masterfully deflects a difficult situation, a trap, by drawing a line in the sand and reminding those who would throw a stone at a woman for a sin she committed that they are not without sin. His point was that by judging others, they bring judgment upon themselves. As Christians, we are aliens in this world. This is not where we belong. We stick out; we’re not supposed to blend in. Jesus said that they hated him and we should expect similar treatment. I’m always leary of popular Christians leaders in mainstream media. Holding onto the things of God make us foreign to this culture and people won’t understand us. Still, we are the overcomers in this world because Jesus overcame the world first. Unfortunately, in my story above, I chose to be like the world instead of the light of the world. I responded in the same spirit and who knows what blessings I missed along the way?
Cool Down: “Lord, this is a strange place I live in. Help me not to get too comfortable here because my home is in eternity with you. But while I’m here, help me not to be conformed to the image of the world but transformed by the renewing of my mind. Let my light shine in such a way that others will glorify you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”