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.” John 8:1-11
What is a shame free environment? It’s a nonjudgmental place you go to receive encouragement to get you back on the road to self-control. It’s a place where people don’t point fingers at you and say there is the guy who ____. The best place for a shame free environment is the church. Unfortunately, the church is not where you will receive a shame free environment in most cases. Let me put it this way, you will only find a shame free environment in a life giving church. A life giving church has a “come as you are” mentality. We love you no matter who you are or what you are, we accept you as a human being that God created and we will help you get on the road from whatever you need to recover. We don’t look down at you because we know we have our owe issues.
Jesus is all about a shame free environment. He shows this with the story of the woman who was caught in adultery. The religious leaders at the time grabbed her and tried to trap Jesus with her sin. They not only pointed fingers, but they wanted to put this woman to death. How many times do we kill someone when we whisper behind their back about their own personal demons that they are struggling to overcome? How is our judgmental attitude helping someone overcome a stronghold? How are we being Jesus to that person when we take this type of attitude? Could it be that we are afraid to share our own shame with someone?
Before I even stepped foot in my church, I experienced a shame free environment first hand from two sources. From a nursing staff at my heart clinic and from athletes that watched me slowly over a two year period lose 242 pounds. I’m so thankful for the nursing staff at the heart clinic for being so professional and nonjudgmental of my massive size. Over a two-year period, I received a lot of encouragement and strength from these people, especially my friend Lisa who was a vital part in not only my outer transformation, but my inner transformation because of the faith she always displayed. Never was there talk about how I got myself into this mess, it was always a positive experience with them. As I lost the weight I was watched by some athletes, which I would run into all the time at my favorite outdoor area, Shelby Farms. They would encourage me as well. What was funny was I never thought seasoned athletes would ever be that way. It is a positive experience to know that most athletes are for people getting out and becoming athletes themselves.
There is always that joke that Jesus was writing down in the sand the sins of all the accusers of the woman caught in adultery. I would not doubt if this theory is correct, because they all one at a time left, beginning with the oldest to the youngest. Jesus pointed out their shame to make them realize that they had no foot to stand on with their accusation. Part of being a life-giver is taking away the discomfort someone might have with his or her issue. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so we all need to understand someone who has an issue. That’s what Jesus did with this woman, He silenced the discomfort by making them realize their own shame.
The next thing we need to do than to just have a nonjudgmental attitude is to give them freedom. Jesus wondered where her accusers were and didn’t one of them condemn her? She said that none did, so He said to her that He didn’t condemn her as well. He freed her from her sin by simply giving her grace and told her to no longer sin. This is the example we all should live by when dealing with others sins that they share with us. We free them by not condemning them. We show them love, support, and pray for them, but we don’t condemn them. It may be a shocking sin that they reveal to you, we have to be intentional about our response. Showing the love Jesus showed to this woman is the only way to help someone overcome an obstacle of sin in his or her lives.
There are two things we must do that Jesus did to make a shame free environment in our churches; the first one is to remove the judgmental contention. The second is to love them by showing them grace in your speech, in your face and your attitude. An attitude of love can bring about change in someone’s struggle to overcome a sin obstacle. We need each other, after all the world will know we are Christians by our love, not by our hate.
Have you ever had a shame free experience and how did it make you feel? Please respond in the comments section.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.