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OPINION

Let He Who Has Not Sinned Cast the First Stone

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

There seems to be seething anger in the world today that seeks someone to attack. It is a world where there is little room for redemption or forgiveness. It's a one-and-done trial. You have a visible sin, and it's over. Like the gladiators with swords to the neck of their defeated opponent, they look to the coliseum masses for a verdict. The thumbs-down condemnation seems unanimous. There is no mercy to be had.

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Maybe two years of being cooped up in our homes for fear of COVID has left us easily enraged by those we deem evil and deserving of our wrath. The media, eager to draw our attention to the mistakes and sins of others to improve ratings, use any "sinner" they can find to capture viewers and feed our appetite to have someone to hate. Whether it is a politician we dislike, a law enforcement officer who goes too far, a fellow citizen who dares try to defend his community, or even an offended Oscar-winning actor who slaps a comedian in front of millions of viewers, we may not want blood, but we do want to destroy their reputations.

Our country seems to be majoring in condemnation. Whether it's former President Trump or President Biden, with a polarized electorate, the faithful followers do what they can to bring their opponent down. When an officer in a scary moment of confrontation makes the wrong decision and it is captured on video, we want his job-we want him convicted and locked up. When a citizen brings a gun to town to help protect his city from rioters and chaos reigns, there is no room for mercy. And when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, millions piled on to the outrage.

Maybe we are not as unique as we think. Two thousand years ago, a man named Jesus was led through a throng of adoring fans on his way to Jerusalem. They laid cloaks and palm branches on the ground before him with shouts of "Messiah" echoing for all to hear. But in less than a week, another crowd gathered before Pontius Pilot as his fate laid in the balance and demanded in one voice-"Crucify him!" And they did. He was nailed to a cross until he died.

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That same man, when a woman who was caught in adultery was brought to him and he was asked to condemn her to be stoned to death as the law prescribed, gave an unexpected but powerful response. As the crowd gripped their stones ready to deliver the verdict the woman's sin deserved, Jesus knelt down and seemingly drew images in the sand. With all eyes upon him, he said to an angry crowd, "Let him who has not sinned cast the first stone." Within moments, stones could be heard dropping to the ground. No stones were thrown.

As we enter Passion Week, we are reminded of the powerful message and life of Jesus Christ. He ate with sinners, those in need of forgiveness and healing. He challenged the religious of his day to not focus on the speck of sin in the eyes of others but to deal with the planks in their own eyes.

As the Apostle Paul would remind us in his letter to Christians in Rome, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Jesus came not to lead the perfect but to save the sinner. Our society likes to feed the illusion of perfection. Maybe that is why we get so upset when anyone dares break that illusion. We know privately that we fall short of even our own ideals. But publicly we dare not confess to such sin. Maybe that is why hiding in our homes exiting only with the cover of face masks to hide who we really seem somehow safe.

The COVID restrictions are coming down. The mask mandate is being made optional. We will soon be re-entering a new normal. Unfortunately, the anger and calls for condemnation are still there. Everyone has a cell phone ready to capture the "sins" of others. The private is now dangerously public. Videos of sin feed the social media and those captured moments never go away. Will Smith's slap will be with us every Oscar season. He may not be in the Oscar audience for the next ten years, but the slap will be used to make sure we don't forget.

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Those willing to forgive may be ready to give Will Smith a second chance. After all, like me, we love many of his movies, and everyone deserves a second chance. But is a second chance enough? Like us, Will Smith will certainly sin again. He most certainly will not slap anyone else at an Oscars, but the media will be watching him for more proof of how far he has fallen.

To Will Smith and all of us, God sent His Son that rather than being limited to a second chance, God gave us grace. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin. On Easter, Jesus rose again that we might by faith share with Him in eternal life and a loving relationship with God. The price for that gift of grace is to put down the stones we throw at others, to repent of our own sins of the past and those of the future, and to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again through faith we might be forgiven and saved.

In His ministry, Jesus shared the story of the "Prodigal Son" who demanded his inheritance from his father and left only to squander his wealth and be left to a life of sin and want. When he decided to return to his father, repent of his sins, and offer to live as his servant, his father saw him coming and ran to him with open arms. I recently preached on the fact that, like the sinners we all are, we all have our own prodigal moments. This is the Easter God is inviting you to come back home to His loving arms. Is it time to come home?

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Terry Paulson is PhD psychologist, author, and professional speaker on Earned Optimism, Making Change Work, Claiming Your American Dream, and Becoming a Conservative Values Voter. Contact him at terry@terrypaulson.com.

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