And What if I’m Disappointed?
December 29th, 2021

            This morning I did my reading in Max Lucado’s book, “Six Hours One Friday”. Then I did the Bible studies in the two chapters I read - “Fatal Errors” and “Cristo Redentor”. I have been praying for God to show me how to deal with disappointing relationships - to know and understand how He does it, from a scriptural point of view. Well, in today’s readings I got a definite answer.

            The two chapters I studied dealt, in the Bible study guide, with two disappointing relationships: One in Luke where a woman was caught cheating with someone else’s husband, and the second in John where a questionable woman was kissing Jesus’s feet publicly and wiping them with her loose hair. Only wonton women kept their hair unbound. The host of the visit at that house called her a “sinner” and said if Jesus only knew what she was guilty of, he wouldn’t let her near him.

          The chapter, “Cristo Redentor”, was on the famed statue, Christ the Redeemer, that stands in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Max Lucado points out that the statue has eyes that look but don’t see and has a stone heart. Lucado asks how many of us have a God who doesn’t see and doesn’t feel. I reflected on how many people walk in and out of my life without me truly seeing them and therefore feeling nothing for them or at least nothing compassionate. As with the statue of Jesus in Brazil, people can come and go from my presence and I experience only their fallenness. They don’t answer to me, and I don’t answer to them - and the distance between us remains great.

          Jesus was not like that with the woman who was dragged away from the illicit sex act into Jesus’s presence out in the open or with the “sinner” who shamelessly opened herself up to him at the dinner party. His eyes looked, and his eyes saw - not two women who carried on in sinful relations. But women in deep emotional need, whom society called out on the basis of inappropriate conduct. And he didn’t silently sweep their actions under the carpet without addressing them. Nor did he shame them by naming their indiscretions. He simply spoke to the issues that arose there before him. Leviticus, chapter 5, tells us that that’s what we are to do in any case, because not to do so makes us as guilty as the practitioner of sin.

         Yet Jesus regarded the sensitivities of the guilty. He, of all people, was qualified to condemn them - but he didn’t. He did that same thing with the woman at the well in John 4, who was living with a man she was not married to.  In all three cases, Jesus publicly spoke forgiveness to the individuals in question. His forgiveness did not excuse them to continue to sin. Rather, it gave them a chance to start over without condemnation. And to seal his verdict, he accepted a criminal’s death on an execution stake as society's thank you for standing up for those judged unacceptable. Jesus said those who are forgiven much are able and willing to love much. He also pointed out to us that it is God’s goodness to us that leads us to changed lives.

           As I pondered these stories, I asked myself if I related better to Brazil’s stone statue of the Christ or to the Bible’s reports of the one who came to buy us back from the clutches of evil with warm intention. I’m embarrassed to say sometimes I’m more likely to cling to a stone-cold statue than kneel at the feet of the flesh-and-blood savior of the broken. Following in the footsteps of a Holy God isn’t easy. It’s a process that takes time, effort, commitment, and often pain, but it’s the path I’m choosing.