"If there's one thing I need to do,
it's to find out more about you".
Randy Stonehill - First Prayer.
It's been another painful week in the world.
Paris was truly shocking, but as I've read of the current political troubles in Portugal and economic quakes China, as well as the call in Russia for more nuclear arms, and the sense of uncertain justice in relation to drone strikes, I've been reminded that it's all too easy for us to loose sight of the bigger picture and thereby lack understanding.
The same is true in our faith.
Take the story of the the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).
We all recall Jesus famous words here, 'let him who is without sin cast the first stone', but who do we usually identify with in this event?
Perhaps, like me, you can so easily find yourself looking at someone else the way these people did at this woman. It's so, so easy for us to 'arrest, judge and convict' someone with speed, especially if they confess or are caught in sin or weakness. I find myself all too readily reaching for the 'guilty' button (or stone) then, and Jesus' words certainly strike home in those circumstances, but how many of us identify with the woman? How many of us are prepared to recognize that we're just like her, standing before an arena of judgement for who and what we are?
The problem so often with being religious is that we think it lets us off the hook.
The pious folk of Jesus' day were masters at playing the role outwardly, but they didn't fool God for a second. Once the garb was taken off, they were exactly the same as this woman - all their religion did was blind them to their poverty.
Despite her being condemned by the crowd, this woman had everything that mattered going for her at that dreadful moment.
It didn't matter how guilty or deserving of judgement she was, because standing next to her was the judge of all the earth, and He was going to show her and those who had convicted her that there was only one thing that truly mattered in all of heaven and earth - God was there, and God was totally loving and merciful - that's what truly makes the difference.
Recently, I was watching an astonishing video by Nadia Boles on Confession and Absolution, in which she talks about how it is so helpful to use this as a way of understanding that God has dealt with our sin and finding our way back to that point that, yes, whilst we are sinners saved by grace, His salvation truly makes us free.
The true work of God, Jesus says, is to rest on the one the Father has sent (John 6:28, 29). Jesus is standing with us today, if we put aside our pretense and our scrutiny of others, to see our need of Him - to know His health and peace in our time of need.
The world is filled with pain and fury, but there is one, standing oh so close, that heals us and truly sets us free.
That alone allows us to get somewhere.