A Challenge to Challenge.

Jesus didn’t condemn. Jesus challenged everyone he came into contact with. Two stories of Jesus come to mind.

In John 8, a group of men bring a woman to Jesus who they say was caught in the act of adultery (let’s not get into why they didn’t bring the man with them too). Jesus addresses both the crowd formed around him and the woman. He condemned neither. Jesus challenged both.

Jesus Challenged: Weapons Dropped

To the crowd, he gives the famous command, “He who has no sin, cast the first stone.” Jesus doesn’t condemn this group of presumably men by saying, “You are all a bunch of sinners too! Let’s talk about your sins that might be worth death.” Jesus could have easily condemned many of them to the same punishment as this woman. 

Jesus didn’t condemn. Jesus challenged everyone he came into contact with. Let’s be like Jesus, drop condemnation, and pick up challenge.

Instead, Jesus challenged the crowd. He challenges them to think. Jesus pushes the group of people to consider the grace God had showed them. Challenged, the group slowly drop their weapons of stones and melt away. All that were left was Jesus and the woman.

Jesus Challenged: Go and Sin No More

Again, Jesus chooses to challenge her. Jesus starts by asking the woman two questions:

  1. Where are your accusers?
  2. Do they still condemn you?

The answer is simple: “No.”

Jesus then makes two statements (one comment and one challenge): 

  1. I don’t accuse or condemn you either.
  2. Go and sin no more.

Jesus didn’t excuse her sin. He acknowledged she is a sinner. Yet, Jesus does challenge her to be better. He calls for her to turn or repent from this sin in her life. 

Jesus Challenged: Join Me in Paradise

The other story is similar. Luke records Jesus death on the cross including a brief interaction with the two criminals hanging on either side of him. One mocks Jesus, but the other defends Jesus. The second one asks for Jesus to remember him when Jesus enters into heaven. Jesus could have easily responded with condemnation. The man admits to his sin and guilt. Instead Jesus challenges.

However, Jesus doesn’t challenge the man with his statement. Jesus challenges us. Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” As a follower of Jesus, I struggle to have this same posture toward the people I encounter in my life. Many of them are clearly sinners – both in the world and in the church.

Challenge Requires Care

Condemnation is so much easier than challenge. If I condemn someone, then I no longer need to interact or care about them. They deserve whatever punishment they get, and I am absolved of responsibility. I don’t want to be with them – now and definitely not later in heaven!

Challenge requires saying hard things and encouraging change. It forces me to invest in the person or people I challenge. I have to care for them.

Challenge + Call Up

My job is to challenge people in my life – those who follow me and those who I follow. My job is to call people up to be who God created them to be. God’s job is to judge and condemn those who are worthy of punishment.

In your world, leave the condemnation to God. Challenge the people in your life to be better. Go and sin no more. Instead of cutting people off, invite them into your community…your paradise…your heaven. 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply