Sunday, March 23, 2008


I see and hear this word everywhere in the headline news...
Obama condemns the words of his former pastor
Candidates condemn Bhutto assassination
Chinese Premiere condemned riots in Tibet
Pelosi urges world to condemn China
Cuba condemns criticism of China
Prime Minister condemned the attack
Security counsel tried to pass a resolution condemning the violence in Jerusalem
Muslim countries urged the U.N. to condemn Israel’s attacks
Palestinian leader condemned the shooting
The Church condemns stem cell research using embryos
Has it always been this way? Must world figures throw their weight around by condemning things? I suppose it is nothing new. It’s the same as cursing, isn’t it?

I recently re-read the Baburnama, the diary of the Mongol warlord and poet, Babur. Not Babar. (He was an elephant.) Babur wrote around AD 1500. About one man who had betrayed an ally, Babur says, ‘Anyone who hears of this and does not curse him deserves to be cursed himself.’ I’m impressed; it’s like a chain-letter. A self-replicating curse!

Well, curses come to the mind and tongue pretty easily, don’t they? At least, in my case they do. And when one’s sense of what is just and right is turned on oneself, our hearts condemn us. We feel under a blanket of condemnation, deserved condemnation.

The scriptures have just as many statements of people or behaviors being cursed or condemned as the headlines do. On this weekend, when so many Christians commemorate how Christ, too, was condemned – literally condemned to die (and cursed and mocked and humiliated and tortured and killed, though he was without sin).

But three statements of being not condemned stand out to me. These two:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 8:9-11)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
And finally, the story of the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. How does Jesus respond?
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘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.’ (John 8:9-11)
Certainly there are a lot of different things going on in this passage, but what jumps out to me today is that it appears she was guilty. When I feel guilty or ashamed or afraid or condemned, when I am caught in the very act of my sin, whether it is anger, selfishness, laziness, lust, or treating others with contempt, might God speak to me the same words he spoke to this woman caught in her sin?

No comments: