Many of you probably know about the latest Facebook viral campaign. Last week Facebook friends the world over were changing their profile pictures to that of cartoons, supposedly whatever their favorite was as a kid. I couldn’t think of a favorite, which is probably why I didn’t do it. Vanity Smurf maybe, because at least the picture would still bear my resemblance—the vanity part, I’m not blue.
Hedonism, the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness any way possible, doesn’t satisfy. Neither does religion, which is like stagnant water. Religion convicted her of her hedonistic lifestyle, providing her with ample guilt to keep her devoted her entire life—and empty. But the reality of guilt and the emotion of guilt must lead somewhere other than religious exercises. So she brought her guilt to Jesus, and he overturned the verdict and began the process of eradicating her burden of guilt.
I’ve been thinking about last Wednesday's post and how I criticized the Pharisees for their adherence to the Law, or at least their dependence on it for their salvation. I considered the woman and her “many sins,” which we infer involved sexual sin. So, what does the Law say about sexual immorality? Here’s just a sampling of what the Torah says (specifically Deuteronomy 22).
I think there are two approaches we take to worship. We can worship in an attempt to get forgiveness for sins. Or we can worship out of an awareness that we’ve already been forgiven.
As I was growing up, my dad tried to teach us how to be proper in the way we addressed adults, how we held our forks, and how we were to wear a shirt at the dinner table. (We spent summer days shirtless and shoeless, not because we were poor, but because it was … uh, summer in Arizona.) Dad grew up in Connecticut but relocated to the West in time to correct us when we would refer to one of our aunts or uncles by their first name. We’d simply call them Bobby, Jan, and Katy. But Dad would offer: Uncle Bobby, Aunt Jan, Aunt Katy, usually in his formal New English “ohnt.”
You’re probably familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Separately, three people came upon a man who’d been mugged. One was a priest, another a Levite, and the last a Samaritan, who would have been hated by the Jews. Typically, we walk away from the story thinking we should be more compassionate toward others, especially those we normally wouldn’t like. But, as there usually is, there’s more to the story.
Sometimes after bath time we allow Micah to go diaperless. He enjoys this freedom, the cool air caressing his baby booty and producing a fresh buoyancy. Without the constriction of a bulky diaper, he runs around aimlessly, not caring where he’s going as much as how long he can go for. At some point childlike innocence regresses into shame, like Adam and Eve when they discovered their nakedness. Consequently, many of us search our entire lives for the best fig leaves to cover ourselves, all the while growing in our self-consciousness. But worshiping Jesus consists of becoming less self-conscious and more aware of our Savior.
The other day I was ironing my clothes for a wedding. I often iron my own clothes, but since I seldom wear a tie and jacket I faced a dilemma. Did I need to iron the shirt that would be covered by a jacket anyway? Maybe just starch the collar and sleeves because they stick out? Hmm.
Upon reading this story, I was enraged at the men who carried out this young woman’s punishment. Her life was taken from her for an act that’s committed every day here in our country, the land of the free and home of brave (and unashamed) adulterers. Then I thought, isn’t Somalia where those pirates make their home base? A country that harbors thieves and murders, yet executes adulterers. Then I considered the strictness of Islamic law and its penal system. How could such a deed among consenting adults, one that seemingly doesn’t hurt anyone—how could it warrant such a sentence?