OUR OPINION: Not condemned, just beloved

By NEMS Daily Journal

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
The world slaps labels on us that tear us down.
Or we label ourselves.
Or both.
The attack begins early – on the playground, in the classroom. It confronts us in the workplace, the church parking lot, the grocery store, the television, the mirror. And sometimes it stays with us even in the care facility where we spend our last days.
Not a soul among us – Christian, atheist or otherwise – is immune.
It’s bad enough when the efforts to dehumanize us are baseless. At least then we feel justified, even if robbed of our dignity.
Far worse is when the labels are deserved. Standing undone for all to see our miserable failure, we have nowhere to hide.
Jesus encountered such a person when his adversaries brought her – an adulteress – to trap him into either consenting to her death or violating the law of Moses.
Jesus wrote in the dirt, possibly listing sins of his adversaries that only the God-man would know. When he consented only to let the sinless start the execution by stoning, they shrank away.
When she acknowledged that none of her accusers remained, he offered the most welcome words the guilty woman could imagine: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
No condemnation.
Only love.
Christian singer-songwriter Jason Gray illustrates this concept in the video of his song “Remind Me Who I Am.” In it, he encounters people holding crudely made signs that reveal the hurts within them. Each time he snaps a Polaroid of one of these aching souls, the lettering miraculously changes in the picture to read “Beloved.”
His lyrics beg God, “When I lose my way, And I forget my name, Remind me who I am. In the mirror all I see is who I don’t want to be; Remind me who I am.
“If I’m your beloved, Would you help me believe it.”
Jesus offers his followers a new “label”:
Not “Bad.”
Not “Sinful.”
Not “Weak.”
Not “Not Good Enough.”
Just “Beloved.”