“Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” (MLK)

Take, for example, this question. Is it better to be good or right? Don’t just answer off the cuff. Think about it.

A while back, I wrote about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11). It’s an interesting story.

I wondered what happened to the man caught in adultery. And what about the people who were prepared to stone that woman to death? Stone her to death. Who sinned the most? According to the Mosaic law, the mob was within its purview to stone her. They would have been “right.” They were the arbiters of morality.

But Jesus thought otherwise.

Notice that before he spoke, he stooped down to write on the ground with his finger. Maybe he needed a minute to think. He decided to go with “good.” He forgave the woman but nailed the mean-spirited, holier-than-thou people. Actually, he held a mirror up to them. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

And they walked away, beginning with the oldest.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Notice that he didn’t say, “Never mind them. Adultery isn’t a big deal.” He told her to change. But first he saved her life. He chose good-ness to pave the way for right-ness.

So often we get that backwards. We start with our self-righteous beliefs, which are sometimes decided by our social media algorithms or our favorite commentator. But do we ever question them? Jesus questioned the mob. He took a minute to think. I guess he kinda broke the law in choosing good over “right,” but that’s kinda the point.

There’s a “deconstruction” movement afoot among people of faith today, a rethinking of mean-spirited, holier-than-thou religion, which never should have happened in the first place. It’s a whole new view. It’s been hiding in plain sight. Love is what covers a multitude of sins.

Which is what Jesus has been saying all along. Maybe we just need a minute to think about it.

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