there are certain portions of scripture that never fail to take my breath away.
moments I read about that leave me shivering and goose-bumped at the beauty.
they’re the ones that stick with me and start to shape the rebuilding of my heart.
I love peeling open the pages of my Bible and finding Life and Love and Truth in there. the gospel of John calls Jesus Himself the Word, and I understand that with greater depth of feeling when it’s as though the words of Scripture absorb His presence. there’s a holiness in there, in that sacred space of sweet community with the Divine, that beckons off our shoes & calls us closer to a fuller and sweeter understanding.
one of those breathless moments of Divine presence happens in particular for me in John 8… and I really really want to share that moment with you because I think it’s crucial in our understanding of who this Jesus is.
what this Way is that we walk.
where our lives are meant to intersect and mesh.
because Jesus is never a neutral party. Jesus never compromises. Jesus is all-encompassing fullness and a great & holy force of grace. Jesus is always acting, always moving, always guiding.
Jesus-love is a messy, holy, and yeah… controversial… kind of love.
and the breadth of it is wild & bold.
there’s enough for all of us & there will keep on being enough-
there is no shortage.
there is no scarcity.
no need to scramble and elbow for the last drops of it because it’s not going anywhere.
and, in all the impossible glory of it, the more grace that’s given, the more there is to go around.
the grace, the love… it will never run out- not for you, not for me, not for the crumpled-down, shamed-out, side-eyed sinner we’ve condemned to the outer edges & table scraps of our tidy Christian circles out of pride or discomfort or fear that they will soak up all the grace and leave none left for us.
yes, God forbid it ever run out for her, for him…
in John 8, Jesus is called into interaction with one of these shamed-out sinners and does the unthinkable, the controversial, the glorious.
He takes a woman- battered, humiliated, guilty- and protects, defends, and justifies her.
He takes the pride and religion of her condemners and turns it into shame and self-reflection.
when everyone expects Him to crucify her on the laws of religion and shame her with the rules of the standard of perfection, He instead reveals a love messy enough to transcend the “wrong” and “right” and instead pierce the heart of the person most desperately in need of it.
when others exposed her, Jesus dignified her.
when others condemned her, Jesus freed her. (He literally looked at her and said “I do not condemn you.“)
when others attacked her, Jesus protected her.
and after publicly making fools of her accusers and solidifying that He was the only one who reserved the power and authority to wound her, He healed her.
this is the heavy, deep, never-runs-out, controversial kind of love He knew.
and yet all the time I hear people excusing despicable acts of judgement and condemnation with the “well, they’re wrong” line.
and that’s utter crap. because, quite simply, Jesus-love is bigger than who is right and who is wrong.
Jesus-love is not so shallow and weak that it is limited by the actions of people chaining themselves to a shattered law and ripped veil, when dignity, freedom, and protection are given gloriously and without competition. if that is the love you’re buying into for your own heart, you will find yourself in the arms of a very weak, very helpless, very watered-down Jesus that doesn’t, after all, exist. and, oh friend, I want so much more for you than that.
I don’t really care what the particulars of your theology are, but if your arms are not flung open in welcome and protection to the ones condemned, judged, attacked, and stripped of their dignity under the banner of holiness, than my precious friend… you are missing the very epicenter of all the beauty of the gospel.
this is the idea, anyway: that they are us. we are them. there are no others.
and one more thought, for those of you who were waiting on the edge of your seat to mention it…
the “go and sin no more” comes AFTER the radical, controversial, defiant love that cannot be refused. and there is reason for this! because it is only that never-runs-out love, that never-emptied grace that moves our souls enough to desire the holy becoming. there is no becoming without the kind of love that looks like Love Himself.
love radically, messily, wildly, freely, controversially.