He Who Is Without Sin...
"Most learned judge, a sentence! Come prepare!"
"Tarry a little, there is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood; The words expressly are a pound of flesh."
Merchant of Venice
When I think of the "pound of flesh" Shakespeare wrote about and the way it is referenced today I take it as a way of exacting punishment or demanding just penance, possibly in the cruelest of ways. But when is this "pound of flesh" enough? Is there ever a time when the unforgivable occurs? Who decides just what is considered unpardonable and who decides when the individual has suffered enough, that they are sincerely remorseful, and are, in fact, redeemable?
I am the first to admit that I am guilty of judging others for their offenses. I believe we have all been guilty of this at one time or another. It's very hard, for instance, not to view child molesters as monsters who our planet wouldn't frankly be better off if they never existed. And yet, God created them and loves them as his children just as much as he loves us. This notion is incomprehensible to me, yet I know He loves us all in spite of our failures ( small or huge), regardless of our past, and He never gives up on us. He never ever leaves us. We are loved unconditionally.
So if God can forgive us, why on earth is it so hard for us to forgive others...especially in matters that don't even apply to us? It almost seems that many of us relish in the downfall of others and will forever view those who make mistakes as lepers who are incurable.
Case in point: When my son was seven months old his dad walked out on us. Sebastian was born with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. His dad, at the time, felt like it was all too much. He left. I was left with a sick infant and dealing with the realization that I was going to be divorced. The word divorce was never even on my radar. Yet here I was. This hurts to talk about, but I lost a lot of close friends at this time. Back then divorce wasn't as prevalent as it is now...especially in my church. I had zero control of the situation, but I was harshly judged by many who I thought were my friends all because I was now somehow lesser because I was going to be divorced. It has been almost 19 years and most of my relationships from back then have since been repaired, but what a lonely time for me.
I bring this up because we, as Christians, are to love each other the way Christ loves us. It is nearly impossible to feel God's presence, much less His love, grace, and mercy when we are drowning in a stormy sea of harsh and bitter rejection and venom that has been spewed at us from all sides by the very people who, at one time, lifted us up.
When will we begin to truly try to see others as God sees them? When will we show love to others who are different than us, who don't share the same beliefs, who have made mistakes, who have hurt us or others in the past? When will we finally see that we are all human and will make mistakes? we can be so harsh with others and we don't stop to put ourselves in their shoes. My guess is that we are only getting partial truths and making a lot of assumptions.
It is heart wrenching when you see a friend or a loved one with so much potential and so much to offer stifled and spiraling toward the abyss because God's love and grace are buried so far beneath the judgement of others.
This hurts and outrages me because if we Christians cannot support and love our brothers and sisters in Christ then exactly who will?
John 8:7 says, "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
The bible is clear. We have all sinned and fallen short...myself included. I strive on a daily basis to see others the way that God sees them. I don't always succeed, but I make a sincere effort. After all, loving our neighbor is quite simply the right thing to do, but also, I hope I will be shown the same love and mercy if and when my time comes.
It has never, in the history of the world, been our place to do God's job. And I'm most assuredly relieved that it isn't. Please pray for clarity and an open mind before picking up that stone because you never know when one will be heading in your direction.
Much love. XO