Psalm 128; Ezekiel 36:22-32; John 7:53 – 8:11
With 3 kids at middle school age, I get to hear a lot of stories.  I mean a wide range of stories – they range from comedy to drama.  This middle school journey is as much a learning experience for the kids as it is for me.  It is an understatement to say that kids face many more social challenges than I did as a middle schooler.  My 12 year old gets very involved in the story telling, and whether it’s an actual story from the school day or a YouTube video showing skateboard tricks, he always says, “Dad, here is the best part!”
Have you ever found something that you just couldn’t leave out?  -The best part of the story.  You want to make sure no one misses it.  I got lucky enough to find these words of Scripture from the Gospel of John.  Biblical scholars are pretty sure that verses 7:53-8:11 are not included in John’s original writing, but when it was found in later manuscripts and well researched, they found that it was a well known story told from the beginning and that it was too good to leave out!
This story is a lot like the stories I hear about middle school.  A group of self-made bullies are doing their very best to publicly humiliate someone who made some bad choices.  These bullies are not just trying to humiliate this young woman.  In fact, just like bullying that happens today, they were trying to get their way.  Their real purpose was to undermine Jesus and stop him from teaching.  These bullies could not have cared less about the young woman they were ridiculing.
It’s clear from the passage that bullying was not just a middle school problem in biblical times, and if we were very honest, we would admit that it is very much a problem in adulthood today as well – even in our churches.  I hate to even mention it, but just take a look at American politics.  Bullying is a way of life for all ages and all walks of life these days.  We can easily become more concerned with getting our way and making ourselves look good than doing the hard work of forgiveness and restoration in the lives of those around us who have made some bad choices.
Maybe we should take a few minutes and read these verses again.  After all, “It’s the best part!”  You see there is so much wisdom in these verses about how Jesus sees us when we fall short or make bad decisions.  “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it but to save it” These verses challenge us to treat people with compassion and love rather than being callous and demeaning toward them.  We are facing so many social changes in the world today including many that are detrimental to our physical health and our spiritual well being.  Our best option is to put down the useless stones, stop hiding behind a shallow righteousness, and become encouragers and protectors of each other – because we have all made some bad decisions.
As we reflect on verses like these and come face to face with Jesus’s call to love one another, I believe the stories from middle school and maybe even the evening news will begin to change into stories of forgiveness and a pattern of life that overcomes the power of sin.
Rev. Jason Leviner – Monks Corner Church of the Nazarene – Monks Corner, SC

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