Week 4 Day 22: A Deep Longing
"It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery". Galatians 5:1
Idols and What/Who we Worship
Ponder: There is a deep longing in all of us to be completely loved and accepted. This is a really good, beautiful and wonderful desire that finds it origin in our Lord. The trouble is this desire and its outworking is often so very broken and can be so very damaging to us and the people around us. Our "need" to receive "cuddles," as one participant put it, can so easily turn into a demand and not a free gift given with no strings attached. It can even turn into working to get those "cuddles" from a "forbidden or taboo" place, often causing devastation and such hurt.
I love the account of Jesus, the teachers of the law, and the woman caught in the act of adultery found in John 8: 1-11:
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” New Living Bible
The woman and her shame. Imagine being brought in front of a crowd. The fear, the humiliation and the hopelessness of the situation. She had been receiving her "cuddles" from a very taboo and broken place but most likely out of extreme desperation and not knowing how else to make a living. Possible idol: physical love and acceptance, the man's attention (even given in such a toxic selfish way). Notice how her allegiance has changed, "No, Lord."
What about the crowd? Are you an onlooker? What are your thoughts towards the woman? Possible idol: People pleasing, enjoying the thrill, not wanting to be left out.
The Pharisees and teachers were "right" but at the same time completely wrong. I call this toxic! and the outworking could have been tragic for the woman. How can they be right and wrong at the same time. Possible Idol: Their religion and their own "rightness."
Jesus does a wonderful beautiful thing. He stands up for the woman not in the way you would expect. He doesn't blame or try to convince anyone. He simply places his finger on their own sin and they disappear. Every single one of us has fallen so short of the glory and beauty of God. Romans 3:23. How can we condemn someone when we are also so very toxic and broken?
It is Jesus who says to the woman, " Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” FREEDOM
For some of you, you chose to walk into your toxic and sinful habits because of something or a significant someone in your past (possibly ongoing). This person drummed certain beliefs into you over and over again. Ask Jesus to help you change this narrative in your thoughts and memories.
In relation to the above passage, imagine what Jesus would say to that person. I think he might say, "you can only say those damaging words to your daughter, wife, husband, sister, brother etc. if you are without sin yourself." Then he looks at you and says, "where is that person and her/his words? they are not here anymore so cannot have any more negative impact on your life.. Go sin no more!!" WOW. You may need help in forgiving that person. This may take time. It is a vital part of the journey towards freedom.
Prayer: Lord, this is a challenging theme this week. Please help me turn to you and not to the idols I have chosen to follow. Forgive me. I need Your help. Some of the idols are buried deep and I may not even recognise them. I trust you to show me and continue to help me on the path of real freedom.
Challenge: It may be that you need to stay in the above passage more than one day. Let Your loving tender Shepherd guide you. Jesus has set you free. Let Him speak the words of freedom, "Go and sin no more" into your heart, mind and soul. Let this take hold, drawing you into an even deeper walk of intimacy and freedom with Your Shepherd and Your Abba.