Big Idea: Jesus is viewed as authentic. Christians are viewed as hypocritical. Jesus invites us to “come clean” and quit wearing masks.
Writer: Steve Dang
Key Passage: John 8:1-11
Starting high school, I wanted nothing to do with Jesus. I could point to many reasons why I was not interested in God let alone Christian faith. I remember as a freshman on the JV football team, watching older seniors in chapel and then watching how they lived their lives after games on Friday night. I was not interested in Christian faith, and apparently, neither were they. When I finally chose to follow Jesus as a junior, this was my prayer as I remembered these moments, “God, I have no idea what this is…or what I just did…but whatever it is, I want it to be for real.” I did not want to make this decision and go back to my life.
I loved Jesus, but my sin nature got the best of me. By the start of my senior summer I was already drinking again. I longed to follow Jesus, but the patterns, habits and behaviors over the past 4 years of my life proved difficult to run from. In class one day, I was in my football jersey ready for the game that night and I remember talking to another student about what I drank the night before. A freshman turned to me and said, “I thought you were a good Christian…but apparently I was wrong.” Ouch.
Christians are hypocrites. It’s the truth. But it’s just as true as us saying, “Christians are humans”. We are born with what the Bible calls our sin nature. When we turn our lives to Christ, we are forgiven in an instant, but the process of us becoming more like Jesus takes a life time. We will fall. I fall every day, but Jesus invites us to return to Him where He picks us up and sets us on the right track again.
In today’s passage we meet a woman caught in adultery. She is about to get stoned (the punishment for the crime she had committed in the ancient world). She’s resigned to her punishment, she may have even known she deserved it, but Jesus stops the crowd. Everyone has commentary on how we live our lives. He stops the woman to ask her an important question that strikes to the very heart of her identity, “Has no one condemned you?”
“Neither do I condemn you.”
Many stop here. Jesus does not condemn us. He wants us to have the abundant life He desires us to walk in, but in order to do that, we have to “leave our life of sin.”
The moment I heard those words from that freshman, I instantly remembered being a freshman watching the seniors. I remembered my prayer just a few months earlier. I also remembered all the people who reminded me that grace allows me to return to God when I fall. In Christian terminology this is called, “repentance.” I rededicated myself. I came clean to God. I made the decision it was time to return to the loving arms of Jesus and I felt free.
Reading: John 8:1-11
- Put yourselves in the shoes of different characters in the story (Jesus, the Woman, the Crowd), what did you notice? Who did you identify with, why?
- Have you ever been caught in the act of doing something you knew you should not have? Take a moment to share what happened? What did you learn from it? How did the truth come out?
- “Christians are hypocrites.” We know this is true, but we also know it is part of our fallen nature. Take a moment to discuss what makes our lives, as followers of Jesus, different. What did you notice as a group?
- This final part is difficult. Repentance is a gift. Read 1 John 1:9, Luke 15:7,10; 2 Cor. 7:10.Imagine for a moment what the role of confession could look like in your Christian practice? We might not feel comfortable confessing in a group setting, but in Scripture confession is tied to freedom. What might it look like for your group to grow to become more vulnerable as a community?
- Remember this: Confession, accountability, and vulnerability are more about cheerleading than policing. Scripture is clear: confession leads to freedom. When we start to feel like it becomes a prison, something is wrong. Finally, to be invited into someone’s spiritual journey is a sacred task – it is meant to be carried out in confidence and trustworthiness.
Challenge: Pray for God to reveal a trusted friend whom you could invite into a vulnerable spiritual friendship, where you can share the victories and failures of your everyday faith.