I’m thinking of John chapter 8, the women caught in adultery and thrown at the feet of Jesus for a decision of execution. I’m also thinking of a friend I haven’t seen in a while. His name is Gerald and he has cerebral palsy. I’ve known him now for 20 years although I’ve only seen him once or twice in the past 5 years. I met him at a camp for children with disabilities when he was 10 years old. For the past 20 years I have taken youth to this camp on a mission trip.
Gerald is a cute and loveable guy. He is smart. He is a ladies man in his own naïve way. He laughs and teases in joyous ways. He is contagious in his love. Gerald once taught me more about Jesus in a few words as we gazed upon a cross in the room than a whole seminary class. Gerald also drools. If you are around him for any time, you will discover that his drool gets on everything including you.
One of my rules for my youth kids going on this mission trip is that the response of “oooooooo Yuck Gross Nasty!” in any dialect, form, expression, or language is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Drool and sometimes worse is expected on this mission trip and needs to be dealt with with soap and water or hand sanitizer not words or any kind of emotional response.
So I’m thinking about John 8, my friend Gerald and his drool, and now James 5:16 (which says, “confession your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”). I have seen people cringe and say, “gross, yuck, nasty” when hearing about the sins of another. In John 8 Jesus didn’t shutter at the women’s capital offense of adultery as she lay there naked in front of him. We will never find true Christian community in the confession of sin as James 5:16 commands with the judging, “gross, yuck, and nasty” of those we are trusting with our deepest secrets. We will never have a friendship with those who are different that us.
I crave for a community where my sins are not met with judgment, but compassion, a community that will not tolerate or justify my sins, but walk with me to overcome them, and a community that loves me enough that I can trust them with my heart no matter how dark the furthest corners are. I want to be in a community that takes serious the holiness of God, the atoning and reconciling blood of Jesus, and the fellowship of the Spirit. I want to be fully loved, drool and all. Don’t you want that kind of community?
Hey church! we are created to be that community!