punishment

Imperfect Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I have reflected on this verse often over the course of the past six months. I hear its refrain as I ponder on those whom I love and those who love me. I know imperfect love. It looms. I know it’s imperfect. It is fear-inducing and creates unnecessary risk. Fear-inducing love is not loving at all. Imperfect love is an oxymoron as it does not exist; love can only exist in complete perfection.

I got a glimpse of perfect love today. I saw it over breakfast and a coffee two hours afternoon. It was not a fear-inducing love, but one that feels freeing. One that assists in letting go. I pray for more of that love.

I pray I find it in the Lord.

I pray I find it in friends.

I pray it is found in me.

Caught in the Very Act

There is no person, in the Bible, I relate more to than a nameless woman. She is not known for her heroic deeds or selfless ventures. She–till this day–is identified by her sin. However, in a orality class, as I read her story I realized it is mine.

John 8:1-11 chronicles the story of a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Not to be unnecessarily graphic, but I just imagine guards barging in on her and her suitor barebacked and in heat. I see her face switching quickly from exhilaration to fear. This woman knows what is coming to her. As they drag her out to receive her due penalty, shame arises. She has no defense. She has no alibi to save her. She is at the total mercy of the law which is not in her favor.

She marches to her looming death. One by one, familiar faces grab the stones that will facilitate in her death. The Pharisees bring her before a crowd. They use her as a riddle for the well-known teacher and alleged Son of God, Jesus. There is only one reasonable answer. The law says stone her. Jesus bends downward and writes in the sand with words only known to the Father and in eternity (I like it imagine, it was the sins of the people who were about to stone her). Then these words,

You who are without sin, cast the first stone.

She kneels to the ground anticipating the first blow. Rocks tumble from hands to the ground as those who her seek her dead retreat. There is only Jesus and the woman.

Woman, where are your accusers? Does no one condemn you?

No one, sir.

Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.

I’m not an adulterous. I am someone who sins. On my way to receiving the due penalty of my sin, Jesus interjects. However, this woman is better than I. My accuser is me. I beat myself up when I am forgiven. I deserve the stoning. I deserve the crowd turning against me. I deserve whatever punishment should come.

What is that about? How could it be so simple for this woman to experience the salvation of Christ, but so hard for me? I recently sinned in ways, I don’t really understand. There are many complexities to the situation that, I can’t even extrapolate. I prayed and received forgiveness from my Father, but I still feel like I deserve a penalty in order to feel better. God is far better than I.

Sometimes, posts end with a conclusion. Today it ends with the divine dissonance of knowing mercy is there and choosing to receive that mercy. I pray I choose the latter.