religious ruckus | John 8.3-5
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” John 8.3-5 | ESV
Having taken his seat, he began teaching them – until a major religious ruckus broke out, Scripture pundits and strict sect types showing up, a woman in tow, a woman caught red-handed in the act of adultery. They sought no private audience with Jesus, they pushed her right into the center where Jesus was teaching, challenging him, “Rabbi, this woman was caught red-handed in the very act of adultery! We know what Moses in the law says must be done to such a woman – death by stoning. But what do you say?” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
The word “religion” is a two-edged sword.
One side is the edge of a weapon that cuts, wounds and kills, the other a scalpel making incisions that bring healing and life.
Most connect the word “religion” with a root word meaning to bind or tie, hinging on the word root lig that you can see in the word ligament. It is a rebinding, a reconnecting, a joining together, uniting in shared wholeness. That’s the healing edge of the religious blade, cutting through the barriers that divide us, antagonize us. It is a wall-demolishing movement.
The other edge of the religious blade, the cutting edge, the weapon – as one writer puts it – “promotes conflict and selfishness rather than generosity and otherliness. It teaches us to prioritize our own personal salvation and religiosity over the well-being of others. It teaches practices and beliefs that make some fear, dehumanize, and judge others, straining or tearing the ligaments of creation instead of strengthening them. In this way, religions can actually become antireligious, ‘de-ligamenting’ us instead of ‘re-ligamenting’ us…‘de-ligion’ instead of ‘religion.’”
And both edges were present in that temple courtyard that day:
The incisive, healing words and presence of Christ as he sat in the temple teaching,
and the cutting, de-ligious Scripture pundits and strict sect types dragging a broken woman into their own publicly created circle of humiliation for judgment resulting in a religious (de-ligious) ruckus.
This is so what we do.
So who we are.
We do it all the time in Jesus’ name – which makes our de-ligion all the more heinous.
How easily we confuse the blades.
How readily we wield the cutting blade in his name with such righteous fervor, slashing, hacking, attacking. For Christ’s sake!
Oh yes. True story.
Spoken right at us with an incisive, healing God-stroke. For as Jesus sits in that temple courtyard amidst this unfolding religious ruckus, it is into our eyes, our soul, that he looks.
What immediately comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘religion’? Is it a healing or wounding word for you? Why?
Abba, bind us together. Pour your oil and wine into the wounds of our bad religion. Show me the path of true, healing, connecting religion that flows from your heart – religion that binds up the wounds of widows, brings family to orphans, and cleanses our hearts of the deep bitter stains of fleshly ambitions masquerading under religious guises. Through Christ.