We live in a fallen world. The evidence is all around us. Bad things happen every day to really good people, and people who are or once were really good people do bad things.
I was watching the news and it told of a shooting in a Sikh temple in Milwaukee in which six people were killed. It is one of many terrible tragedies which have happened in recent weeks.
What stood out to me in this newscast was the interview with the shooters step-mother who said that her step-son was once “a kind, loving, gentle little boy who liked to wrestle with friends, camp, fish and play with the dog and his guitar. She didn’t understand what would make him do something like this.” As a mom, my heart aches for her.
Everyone is exposed to this world and all that’s in it. Each one of us have been hurt by someone at some time, and if we are honest, we will admit that we have caused some hurt ourselves. Although we may have never hurt anyone to the degree that this hate filled man has, he too is a child of God.
In my own family I have been in the difficult position of walking one of my children through their own sinful act. My child was faced with a temptation, one that was hard to resist, and they fell to it. As with most sin, it took a little while for it to surface, but it did surface, indeed. In the first several hours after realizing what had happened, I experienced many emotions including anger, disbelief, embarrassment, sadness, distrust, and more. I also felt a need to honor and defend my child. To believe the best about my child. Even to help them cover up what they had done. In desperation I prayed, “Father please lead me in how to teach about sin. Please help me love my child through this in a way that You would.”
I was led in The Bible to John chapter 8 in which a woman had been accused of adultery and drug into the street to be stoned…
“Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
John 8:4-11 MSG
What God showed me is that the only way to teach my child is without shame, without condemnation, and without anger. The consequences the adulteress faced included public humiliation, and for a time, fear of getting stoned. I believe that Jesus changed her heart that day. I believe that when He told her, from now on, don’t sin, that it brought conviction without shame or condemnation. My child needed to understand that sin is wrong and consequences would come, but more importantly, I wanted to change my child’s heart so the next time temptation came, they would want to make the right choice.
The consequences my child faced included admission of what they did, and making it right with the person they wronged and to face whatever consequences that person brought. The consequences for the shooter in the Sikh temple cost him his life.
I lift up in prayer those who lost loved ones in this most recent shooting. Lord, I pray Your face be seen through this tragedy. May we all be able to face the world with the grace and understanding of Jesus, and to those who love someone who hurts another, God be with you.