Let me start by saying that this is going to be about the Andy Stanley kerfuffle. If you’ve missed out on what I’m talking about, hit your knees and thank God — even if you’re an atheist. Also, if you fall in that category (blissfully ignorant) — and here I’ll commit a major sin of authorship — I suggest that you read no further, as your curiosity may be piqued. Then you’ll go and hit Google and start reading up on what this is all about. And then I’ll be partially responsible for you being exposed to articles and comments that have all the civility of Johnny Knoxville burping the alphabet during the prayer at a royal wedding.
In the sermon that everyone’s carping about, one of the other things that Andy said was:
“… people may misunderstand your grace towards sinners as somehow condoning their sin, but that is not the case.”
The story of the woman caught in adultery is a prime example of this. A cursory reading of the passage makes it look like Jesus totally let her off the hook. Actually, forget “cursory” — there’s a level at which I still don’t get it. And it’s probably a safe bet that you’re in the same boat.
Yes, He said “go and sin no more”, but He didn’t even specifically state that the act in which she was caught was sin. Based on nothing more than that single isolated instance (notice a pattern here?), we could just as easily conclude that He was telling her to stop smoking those funny cigarettes.
When Jesus told parables, people misunderstood all the time. And it wasn’t simply an issue of Him knowing in advance that this would be the case and thinking “c’est la vie“. Part of the reason that He used parables was specifically because people wouldn’t understand.
By sheer definition, not everyone can be the sharpest knife in the drawer. When we show grace, some people are going to misunderstand. The only way to avoid misunderstanding is to stop showing grace altogether.
Is clarity of your beliefs that important to you?