Saturday, June 26, 2010

Half Full Or Half Empty

There is a test out there that everyone is familiar with. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty. If you see it half full, you are an optimist, or so the theory goes. See it as half empty, well then, you my friend are a pessimist. This is a false dichotomy though, because it leaves out a third possibility, the one my analytical, engineering trained mind goes too. The glass is neither half full nor half empty: it is twice as large as it needs to be. I fall into this third category. I am a realist.

So I am preaching from John 8:1, the woman who was caught in adultery. I'm calling it "Stone Casters." There are three kind of folks who were wanting to cast stones that day. I know, most people only pay attention to the obvious ones, the Scribes and Pharisees. They're the ones standing with rocks at the ready. They are accusatory and demeaning to the woman; angry at and demanding of the Savior.

They are the Pessimists. The group that sees everything shaded negatively. No one lives up to the high standards they set, either in church life or personal life. The problem is not their morality or integrity. It is the fact that they cannot meet their own expectations, they cannot live up to their own standards. Now at this point, many of you will say to me (or at least to yourself) that you aren't out there stoning anyone. Really? There are too many examples to effectively exhaust a list in this post, so let's focus in on just one area: church. How many of you are negative ninnies when it comes to all things church related? The choir sung too slow, the preacher preached too long (never said at BDBC), the temperature is too cold, no it's too hot, why can't that single mom control her two kids, why does that...on and on! You say, those are just things I'm feeling. Well, how would you feel if an African-American walked in the back door? That may not fit your situation, so how about this...What if a smelly man with dirty clothes and unkempt hair walked in? Would you talk to him about Jesus, or would you, rock at the ready, ask yourself or neighbor, "What is he doing here?" Cast. "Doesn't he have anything better to wear to church?" Cast. "Why can't he have the decency to at least bath before comes here? Doesn't he realize that this is God's house?" Cast. Hmmmm. Who needs to recognize God's house here?

So the pessimists are the obvious stone casters in this story. But there are two others. Let's look at my ilk, the Realists. Jesus pulls some rationalization on these fellas. They are trying to test Him. Like that has worked for them in the past. Geez these guys were thick! They figure if Jesus says, "Leave her alone." they'll accuse Him of not following the Mosaic Law. If He says "Stone her." they'll blab to everyone of His followers that He is not really a friend of sinners and winebibbers. Jesus just says, "Which ever one of you bozos has never sinned; go ahead and cast the first stone." (That's from the King Steve Version. Not sure if Jesus actually used the word "bozo.") He uses pure logic. See, God is not as interested in our destruction as He is our salvation. But He is also as interested in our holiness as He is His justice. Dilemma. So after some inflection, the pessimists bail-out, starting with the wiser, older generation and dwindling down to the hot-headed youngsters. Where are the stone casters, you ask? The stone casters here are the ones who attempt to use logic and rationalization as a means of excusing their sins. They are not casting their stones at other sinners, but at God Himself. Their favorite verse in Matthew 7:1, judge not, least ye be judged. Now remember that Jesus did not use logic to DEFEND her sin, just to convict her accusers. But these stone casters say things like, "Well, everybody is doing it. Look, you can't condemn me, because you have sin in your past. Judge not..." Listen, the idea here is not for other people to judge you, that's God's job. Jesus called the woman out for her sinful behavior. He even called her a sinner! But He gave her the admonition to "go and sin no more." We have a saying back home, "Don't pee on my boot, and then tell me it's raining." Don't tell God you are justified because every other sinner sins. Instead, ask Him for divine help to overcome the sins in your life.

Lastly, there are the Optimists. Notice the woman. Jesus says, "Lady, where did everybody go? Is there any accusations against you?" (KSV) She says, "No." Ummm. I'm afraid not, sister. She was optimistically thinking that she was OK, but not so. She was still a sinner. Notice again that Jesus confronts her with her sin. See, sometimes we think that we're just fine, thank you very much. "We're at a comfortable place, me and Jesus. We're big buds." The problem is, they're not casting stones at others, and they're not casting stones at God, optimist's are casting stones at themselves. You're familiar, no doubt, with the story about the optimist who fell off a twenty story building. He was overheard around the 10th floor saying, "So far, so good." Optimist are their own worst enemy. Unlike the pessimists, they look around the church and see only the good. The problem with that is that they then lack urgency. Urgency to win the lost. Urgency to make changes so more can be reached or accommodated. Urgency to work and fill needed positions. Urgency to give sacrificially. Their mantra is, "So far. So good." The woman heard Jesus tell her that He didn't condemn her. And what a wonderful thing that is. However, true discipleship is more than being forgiven and following the Master. It is about following His example; striving to live up to His standard, and how many optimists even attempt to do that?

Three stone casters. We all hit one of these categories. But how much are we willing to learn, grow, and journey to be like Christ?

1 comment:

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