The past couple of days I oversaw a construction project for my mother-in-law to repair the deck of her boat dock. The hard work, I thought, of the project was to replace the support beams that had deteriorated. My mother-in law had hired a couple of young guys to do the work. I figured if I could oversee the replacement of the support beams that it would be easy for the guys to replace the decking. The first day the guys worked hard to pull the old decking from two sections, replace the support beams and replace the decking. The guys took great pride in making sure each two-by-six was firmly butted up to each other by using a crowbar to force each of the treated wood decking with their slight imperfections perfectly lined up next to each other.
I went home that night with great satisfaction that we were going to be able to repair the dock. I took pictures to show my wife the stages of construction of the two sections as we repaired them. First showing the work on the new support beams and then the completed deck. Of course, I did this so my wife could see how clever I was and how hard I had worked. When I showed her the pictures, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Did you not leave any space between the deck boards?”. You see, the attempt at perfection would result in the deck not being able to handle any change in weather or aging of the boards. The simple fact that lumber is a naturally growing, imperfect material and because of that imperfection your construction must allow for movement in the lumber. The well-known fact is that deck boards should be placed a ¼ inch from each other to allow for expansion as they age and expand in the heat. We had built a beautiful deck that would not last a single season. The attempt at what looks like perfection would keep the natural material from accomplishing what is meant to be. Perfection is often the enemy of the good.
In this passage from John, Jesus is clearly standing up for a woman that is being accused of living such a life that the mob felt she was unworthy of living in their community. The mob wanted to kill her, but what they were really trying to do was force Jesus to make a statement that made Him unworthy to live in their community. Jesus was not defending her lifestyle but calling on the mob to analyze themselves before condemning others. He basically called the woman and the mob to change the way they were living in relationship with each other, by considering their own imperfections before they judge the imperfections of others.
In the age of social media, it's easy to make judgements and comments on the imperfections and differences we have with each other. It makes us feel morally superior as we sit back and look at the attitudes, behavior, and comments of others. We may not be in the position of stoning someone, we may not respond back in a comment to the post we read, but we do render judgement without considering the frailties of the ones we judge. I miss the day when Facebook was a platform to share with friends and family the joys and sadness of daily living. It was a great form of communication between parties that love each but are separated by time and busyness of life.
I believe the words of Jesus speak to Memphis as powerfully today as they did to the mob in Gospel of John calling on us to change the way we communicate and judge the lives of others as they are displayed on social media. Jesus’ message throughout His ministry was to love others as you want to be loved. Judge others as you want to be judged. Some comments on social media might be just as wrong as the woman who was accused of adultery. I think Jesus’ response to us is the same response He gave the mob - may the first among us without some form of intolerance be the first to comment negatively on the lives of others on social media.
Lift up Memphis by supporting all things that encourage and draw your fellow citizens to care for each other.
Celebrate the peace and prosperity of Memphis.
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