Why Is That Stone in Your Hand?

Why Is That Stone in Your Hand?

I love that it is the unorthodox who are almost always the heroes in the stories of Jesus.  Take, for example, the sinful woman who—in a most unorthodox manner—washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair in the house of the “righteous” and observant Pharisee.  Jesus was disgusted with the Pharisee’s self-righteous judgment and condemnation:

“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’”  (Luke 7:44-47.)

This Pharisee, who by all accounts was an active church goer, was so spiritually dead that he couldn’t even be a good host.  His pious life of having “been forgiven little” left him out of touch, unable to identify basic human needs.  In contrast, the woman’s display of compassion, understanding and love—meeting the basic human needs of Jesus—showed that despite her sinful life (or perhaps because of it) she was a transformed human being who really “got it.”

Perhaps the crisis of apostasy and disbelief we perceive in the world today is a direct outgrowth of the greater apostasy, the secret revolt that is being perpetuated in the hearts of the orthodox who have forgotten how to love and, indeed, seem to love their theology and conformity more than they love people.

This story speaks discourses on the culturally converted—those who don’t “get it” (but are blinded into thinking that they do).  Ironically, in this and most of the other stories of Jesus, it is the so-called “active” and “faithful” who most often unlovingly judge and hypocritically brand the unorthodox as if struggling with orthodoxy was really more sinful than the uncompassionate and dogmatic enforcement of it.

Do you really think the message of Jesus is that what you believe—your theology, your rule-keeping, your conformity—matters more than the kind of person that you are?  Do you really think that your strict orthodoxy or faithful belief in a set of dogmas or tenets makes you righteous?  If so, you really don’t understand the scriptures at all.

Remember, whenever you point your finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you.

When Jesus confronted the would-be stone throwers who were ready to condemn the woman caught in the very act of adultery (John 8:2-11) what do you think troubled him more?  The woman’s sin or the fact that the would-be stone throwers’ orthodoxy had led them to a spirit of murder?  Jesus had to know that this same spirit would eventually lead to his murder.

“What is that stone in your hand and what does it say about your heart?”

What spirit is inside of you?

Perhaps the crisis of apostasy and disbelief we perceive in the world today is a direct outgrowth of the greater apostasy, the secret revolt that is being perpetuated in the hearts of the orthodox who have forgotten how to love and, indeed, seem to love their theology and conformity more than they love people.

Grounding yourself in orthodoxy is as silly as sitting on the sideline, studying your rule book and thinking that it will make you a football star.  Yes, knowing the rules is important.  But that is not the essence of the game.  It is barely even the beginning!  It’s the hours in the gym, lifting and struggling.  It’s the hours on the practice field, running, hitting, getting knocked down, and then getting back up again.  It’s a thousand tears, a million drops of sweat, blood and sacrifice. That’s what football stars are made of.

Judging reveals more about you than the person you are judging

Likewise, studying the scriptures, keeping all the rules and being fully orthodox might make you a spiritual Bob Costas; knowledgeable but wholly inadequate and incapable of playing the real game on the field of life.  Those things are necessary but wholly insufficient.  Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is a dangerous thing.  It renders you weak when you think you are strong.  It’s an illusion, a golden calf, a graven image.  It swells your head and shrinks your heart.

So I would ask you who are so ready to judge, so ready to condemn, so sure that you’re right, so confident that you are among the “righteous,” so worried about what other people believe, so worried about what others are doing and how they are living, “What is that stone in your hand and what does it say about your heart?”

Remember, whenever you point your finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you.  As the stories of Jesus teach us, judging reveals more about you than the person you are judging.

The next time you are ready to judge or condemn someone, especially for what they do or don’t believe, ask yourself, “Would I be the hero or the villain if this were a story of Jesus?”

5 thoughts on “Why Is That Stone in Your Hand?

  1. I think many of us judge others because we are under the delusion that pushing others down somehow elevates us. When in reality it’s the lifting of others that lifts us. It’s another one of the many gospel paradoxes, like losing you life to find it (Matt 16:25). When we spend our life loving and lifting others, we are lifted with them.

  2. I came across an article the other day that stated that more people leave the church because of issues with the culture rather than the doctrine. This article did not elaborate on the cultural issues, but your post perfectly articulated the problem that many people encounter when they are on the receiving end of cultural orthodoxy rather than orthopraxy. Thank you for shining a light on this difficult situation which has pushed people away from the church. Your comments are a good reminder that we are here for people 🙂

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