Sunday, June 12, 2011

Linking to Christ Brings Hope

Here is the annotated outline from today's message about the hope we receive from being linked to Christ:

Linking to Christ Brings Hope//John 8:1-12
Your connection determines your direction.
We are facing an epidemic of hopelessness. It is so bad that the APA recognizes no less than nine different types of hopelessness. Hope is one of those things that is hard to define but you know if it’s missing. We have reduced it to being the equivalent to a wishful desire but it so much more. Simply defined it is the “belief and feeling that things will turn out for the best.”

The situation was hopeless. She stood there, stripped of clothing and dignity, all for the purpose of making Jesus look bad. The law commanded that she be stoned, her life was over, all her secrets were revealed and her pain and shame was out in the open, into the light, for all to see, and they were gathering rocks. The situation was hopeless. She was hopeless.
o      Who are you in this story?
o      The woman, hopelessness saturating your soul, believing there is not much left to live for?
o      The ones with the rocks, looking for a chance to divert the attention away from your own shortcomings?
o      The spectators, horrified at what you see but paralyzed lest you be considered the object of their wrath next?
I grew up in the church. Since I can remember there has been an accepted pattern for being accepted:
o      Challenge my behavior and condemn me, loading on the guilt, unless I did exactly what I was supposed to do.  I had to look how they looked, like what they liked, and if I did then they might…
o      Believe I was sincere and give me a chance and if I met the criteria, if I proved myself worthy they would…
o      Accept me into the club, I mean church.

The problem with this is that it’s the opposite of how Jesus operated…
Jesus’ Pattern of Redemption
o      Accepts us regardless of our past.
o      Believes in us despite our current situation.
o      Challenges us to be different.

Example of Jesus pattern of redemption from John 8:
Accepted her regardless of her past…no words of condemnation came from Jesus’ lips. He actually brought the condemnation upon the religious folks.
o      Rock droppers began with the oldest people, probably because those of us who have lived a few years have a longer history of mistakes.
o      Whether it is the rocks in the hands of others or the ones we hold in our own lives that we beat ourselves with. The pain is the same.
o      I really want to know what Jesus wrote…
o      A list of commandments they had broken?
o      A list of sins they had committed?
o      A list of people they had wronged?
o      Well, I want to know what He wrote for them, but I do not want to know what he’d write for me.
o      Sometimes we are not the hopeless in the center of the circle, sometimes we are the hopeless holding the rock. Or the hopeless spectators paralyzed with fear. You see if we can find somebody who is “worse” than we are be believe that we look “better.”
o      In the midst of our own hopelessness it is hard for us to believe that Jesus can still accept us. If He only knew.

Believed in her despite her current situation
o      Her situation was bleak.
o      If you read the gospels, especially Matthew and John you see that Jesus consistently and constantly accepts people others reject. Jesus practiced the prayer, “Lord send us the people nobody else wants and nobody else sees.”
o      “Neither do I condemn you...” V. 11
o      Hope, like forgiveness, is a gift that is offered but waits on us to receive it.

Challenged her to be different…
o      There is a responsibility that accompanies every gift—“ go now and leave your life of sin.” V. 11
o      Start again—reboot your life.
o      This is not passive dismissal but Jesus calls for an active engagement in the redemptive process by the woman.
o      It is not a sit there or even go back to what you were doing.
o      Linking to the hope Jesus gives comes with a challenge to make a change in behavior, not just the acceptance of an idea or even system of beliefs.
o      We behave ourselves into a new way of being.
o      The key symptom of hopelessness is the loss of a future focus. When you believe that tomorrow will not be better than today hopelessness starts to set in.
o      I wish we knew how this woman lived her new tomorrow. How she seized her command to “go.”

But some of us are stuck without hope. Will you get linked to Jesus? He accepts you regardless of your past, he believes in you despite your present situation, and he will challenge you to live a new future.

Last Words:
This powerful demonstration of restoration and redemption of hope was not a miracle, even though the results were miraculous…it was an act of love. It is something that we can do, we can face the accusers for somebody, we can offer past freeing, present restoring love and we can point them to a Jesus centered future. I can, you can, we can, but will we?

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