Written by cycleguy on March 11th, 2013

They walk in hand in hand.  You don’t give it a second thought until you look a little closer and realize they are a same-sex couple.  What do you do?

You thought you recognized the face.  In fact, you are almost sure you were staring at it just this past week in the newspaper.  Then it dawns on you!  Of course.  He/she was plastered across the front of the paper for a DWI.

The shame written across the face was evident.  The downtrodden and down-looking eyes were another piece of evidence. Something about them said, “I don’t belong here.  Please judge me so I can agree and never come back.”  You realize they were in the paper for a child porn case.

The young woman can’t look you in the eye.  You try to welcome her, but her guilt is too great.  After all, what would you think if you knew she had just had an abortion?  Or was a teenager who had had a sexual encounter and now the consequence is weighing on her.  She is scum and everyone else will think so too.

All scenarios. But all scenarios that we probably have faced in the past or may face in the future.   I gotta tell you, in all honesty, I would not have given a rip about these people several years ago.  I could preach God would forgive, but that didn’t mean I had to have a part in it.  Plainly put, I was a Pharisee.  Lock, stock, and barrel.

I’m not going to presume how you would handle these or similar situations.  As a pastor I have a unique view of things in many ways.  That was how I got to be a Pharisee.  But you can’t be one when God slaps slams you upside the head with a 2×4.   Slam He did and it was not a pretty sight.

I’ve been reading Mud and the Masterpiece by John Burke.  WOW!!  I’m hooked!  It’s not the first time John has done that.  Later on that.  Read this passage please.   Substitute the above examples in the place of the woman.   Jesus’ response would have been what?  While the above examples are mine, the reference to Luke 7 that I am about to give is John’s.

Jesus looks beyond the mud to the masterpiece this woman is.  He doesn’t ignore her sin (“Go and sin no more”), but His parable shows the debt she (and the Pharisees) owe could not be paid.  John makes this statement:

The reason I believe Jesus wants His followers to be unshockable has nothing to do with hating sin or not hating sin.  It has to do with seeing sin for what it is-it’s foreign matter.  Sin is not our true identity-that’s the whole problem.  We need to help people identify with God’s image in them. (The masterpiece under the mud-my note)

That is not sugarcoating sin.  It is about not allowing it to be their/my identity.  This post is getting long so I will continue it later this week. Till then, what are your thoughts?  How would you react to the above scenarios?  And if you get a chance, please listen to this.


26 Comments so far ↓

  1. I wish it was that we were unshockable. Unfortunately we are way out of balance on being shocked.

  2. Daniel says:

    Bill, we have gotten to know each other a bit through our blogs. You probably have gotten a sense that I am a pretty decent guy who loves his daughter. I am a deep thinker and have a pretty good heart, at least some of the time. But if you knew the list of my sins before you knew me more completely, you might easily have written me off as worthless. Yet I am not just the list of my sins. There is so much more. The truth is, this paragraph likely applies to most of the Christians that you know and love.

    • cycleguy says:

      I know Daniel, and it applies to me as well. You are right. I have noticed those things about you, but I have also noticed that you have a heart for God. I’m glad He did not write you off as worthless. I don’t either, that’s for sure, and would love to talk with you in person some day.

  3. the Old Adam says:

    The truth of the matter is that , in God’s eyes, we are in exactly the same boat as those ‘obvious sinners’ that you mentioned above.

    Give this one a whirl, Bill:


    It is right up the alley of this excellent post of yours.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Steve for the link. It sort of froze my computer so I went to your blog and found it on today’s entry. Will listen to it when I have a bit more time. Thanks for the kind words.

  4. Ben Nelson says:

    This is right on – good word!

    I love the quote. I love the idea of being unshakable. After all, as Steve Brown says, we are all members of a club where the only requirement to enter is that we are sinners. How can we be shocked when those who have yet to join are stuck in some horrid slavery.

    thanks – this is good – and thanks Deb for the reference.

    • cycleguy says:

      Love Steve’s words Ben. I used to listen to him all the time but cannot find him around my area. but I love his books. Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts. Thanks for Deb for the recommendation. 🙂

  5. Jeff says:

    I am glad you saw the light and decided to not be a pharisee. You can’t win the heart of Owen county if you are picking and choosing which hearts are worth winning. I am curious as to when and how you made the change from pharisee to preaching the message Jesus was trying to get across. I have two brothers that are both pastors. One gets it and the other doesn’t. Unfortunately there are a lot of preachers that don’t get it.

  6. Susan says:

    Good post, Bill. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to make us shock-proof. Religion makes us harsh and judgmental. The Holy Spirit makes us malleable and fearless of what other people will think if we walk with the “untouchables.”

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Susan. Having come out of a legalistic environment, you know exactly what I am talking about. There were and are unmentionable/untouchable people. They might say “jesus is for all” but it is always capped with “if you become what we say you must.” Religion does make us harsh and judgmental.

  7. I think there’s two ways to come at this.
    One way is realizing, much like you were saying here, that the cross was sufficient enough to pay the price for any sin – no matter how horrible we may think it is.
    The other way of approaching the matter is to remind ourselves that we’re sinful too. Our sins, that we think are no big deal, are disgusting in the eyes of God.

  8. Betty Draper says:

    Good post brother…so very glad the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

  9. I love this because it goes back to the fact that God sees and loves us. He is not saying, “I would really like to love you, but you have to do something about this sin.” He sees the person He created for freedom and fellowship. He will deal with the sin as we let Him, but it’s in the context of relationship. Seems like the pattern the Church ought to follow too. Good stuff, Bill. Thanks.

    • cycleguy says:

      You have also hit on the gist of John’s book Jason. He sees the person He created for freedom and fellowship. Not bondage. And yes, I think it is the pattern we ought to be following. Thank you jason.

  10. I think about these things in terms of the prodigal brother and the elder brother. I’ve been both, but have spent more time being an elder brother of late. To be very honest, I think the challenge is to love sinners without denying sin. After all, if there were no such thing as sin, we wouldn’t need a Savior. Thought-provoking post, Bill. Sounds like a great book.

    • cycleguy says:

      You touch something very important Melanie. John does not advocate denying the sin. He does encourage seeing the person God created in spite of the sin and allow Him to do the removing of the mud. Thanks for the comment.

  11. Jason says:

    Not to be uber Holy but I’m pretty much unshockable. The problem at this point is that it’s very easy to get jaded.

  12. Ike says:

    Be sensitive to someone’s past…if they’ve had a bad experience in church… struggle with a particular sin etc… be understanding and compassionate! Non-Christians hate self-righteousness… and they have a right to do so! Do not soft-peddle the law and the guilt of sin… but make sure they understand that you are a justified sinner… not a self-righteous “know it all” who is here to correct them!

  13. Debbie says:

    I missed this somehow! Glad I clicked back and found it. 🙂 My take away today is not to get stuck on just the sin in someone’s life. Asking for His help with this and for His eyes to see in others the hope and potential that He does. Thank you and God bless you!

Leave a Comment