Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Covered in dust, and wrapped in little more than a bed sheet, the woman lay in the midst of the angry mob. She had been caught in the vile act of extra-marital relations, a capital crime according to the law. The self-righteous had abusively jeered and dragged this sinner before the Rabbi, Jesus. They sneered, “You know what Moses says we should do to her, what do you say?” Scripture says he ignored them. Their heart posture was more vile than the act that she had committed. The hateful vitriol that poured from their sweaty, bearded mouths was as disgusting to Him as the wicked indiscretion this woman had been caught in moments before. Jesus paused, then spoke, “Whoever’s sinless, stone her.” After the self-righteous were revealed in their own sinfulness, Jesus and the woman were left alone. Finally He closed with, “Go, and stop sinning.”
There is a difference between love and acceptance. This is especially true when dealing with non-believers. Many non-believing people live in ways that are against God’s designs. Their flagrant “sin” is all too visible, whether it is their relational choices, their health choices, or their lack of self-control. At times, many of the life choices that are visible can be personally revolting or even socially awkward. This creates a very difficult scenario for those that would love as Christ loved.
This is where the distinction between love and acceptance must come in. The things that are revolting or awkward do not necessarily require our acceptance. We don’t have to agree that substance abuse is ok. We can also disagree with those who would say their relationship choices are right, especially when those choices stand in opposition to God’s revealed desires. We must however, guard from the stone-carrying and jeering that the Pharisees took part in. We are not some special class of person. We have been redeemed, but we are still sinners. It is important that we realize that the only one who could condemn offered mercy and tells us to do the same. We don’t have to approve of the sin, but we must love.