There's a story in the Bible about Jesus and a woman. This woman was a prostitute. This woman was a pawn. This woman was used by the religiously elite of Jesus' day to trap this man Jesus who was making them feel very threatened and uncomfortable.
You can read this story in John 8: 2-11. It's the story where the non-religious, the unrepentant, those who point their fingers at believers and say, when they are feeling uncomfortable in their own sin, "he who is without sin throw the first stone."
It's taken out of context many ways, by many people, for many situations and behaviors. But what is often overlooked, what is almost always avoided in the following lines of the story are Jesus' words, after the stones are laid down and the religiously elite start walking away.
It's not his words, "Then neither do I condemn you". No, those words get used a lot too. Those words serve as a crutch for the unrepentant too. See, if Jesus doesn't condemn me, neither should you, they shout.
It's the next words, His next words that pack the biggest punch and leave me wondering and a little off balance.
"Go now and leave your life of sin."
Not tomorrow, not when you've got your act together, not when you've found an honest job making honest money.
Not when you've cleaned up your act. Not when you've found a better place to live.
Leave your life of sin, NOW.
Seriously, Jesus? How can you expect someone like her to just quit the only way of life she's ever known?
Can you imagine if this story was played out in 2014 in America? Maybe there are shelters for her to go to in her small town making it a little easier. Maybe not.
Maybe she could call up a family member. Can you hear the conversation: "Mom, yeah, this Jesus guy says I need to leave my life of sin and he said I need to leave it now. Can I come home?"
Can you hear her religiously pious mom? "Glory hallelujah! Praise the Lord you saw the light" as her friend sits close by, hanging on every word so she can take the news to her prayer circle and "pray" for the girl after gossiping about her.
Ok, so the point of this is not for prostitutes alone. The point of this story is that Jesus said to leave your life of sin NOW.
So you're not a prostitute? Ok, are you a drunk? Are you an addict? Are you a gossiper or a glutton? Are you living a promiscuous life? Giving your body and your heart to someone outside God's covenant of marriage? Are you arrogant or prideful? Are you religiously pious?
But, Ronda, alcoholism is a disease, addiction is a disease, gossiping isn't hurting anyone, it's not gossiping when we're only bringing a need to the prayer circle, neither is an extra five helpings of dessert, and we really love each other, and I'm only thankful God has shown me the truth so I can wear it on the outside but be a poser on the inside so the gospel is not maligned.
Ok. If that's how you want to stay trapped in your behavior and thinking then go on. Keep on doing what you're doing.
It's not easy to leave a life of sin. I ginosko that it isn't. Living a life of sin is comfortable. You get used to the lies you tell yourself because imagining the alternative is really, really scary. I'm sure it wasn't easy for that prostitute and I hope to meet her in heaven and ask her about her life after she left. I'm sure she'll confirm that a magic curtain didn't open and her new life without pain and suffering didn't start with the snap of His holy fingers. Jesus didn't say, go and leave your life of sin because immediately everything will be better.
He just said, "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Now. Leave now. Separate yourself from this sin, now.
Take the first step for leaving. Do it now. Not tomorrow, not Monday, not when you have enough money saved, not when you have a better place to live, do it now.
Ok, so what in the world can this mean for me and you today?
The same thing.
You know your sins. You know the things which plague you and you deny exist and you coddle and make excuses for. You know because this little post is bugging you, even maybe making you angry and upset and promising NEVER to read this blog again!
It's ok if you don't.
Now means....NOW. At the present time, in the next moment, very soon.
It's not going to be easy and I don't know how it will all shake out, but it will all work out. Your body will probably be a little upset with you for not drinking, for not getting the high. You may have to find something to talk about besides other people, but hey, there's a lot of interesting things to read and study and think about that don't include hurtful gossip. You may just have to pray alone for someone rather than as a group. You may have to reexamine your attitudes towards others less enlightened than you. You may have to start being real, at least with yourself, about your deep struggles with depression and anxiety and feelings of unworthiness that plague you. It's scary to consider leaving all those behind, isn't it?
You see, Jesus wouldn't have said "Now" to the prostitute if he meant next month.
He doesn't say "next month" to us when He knows that Now will bring the blessings.
He loves you so much that He wants you living in freedom NOW! He died for you for NOW! Not just for heaven tomorrow or next week or next month or in twenty years or whenever you die.
The time is now. It's the moment you're living in Now. This afternoon's moments aren't here yet. Neither are tomorrow's. Only now's moment is here.
You may have to restart your now when tomorrow's moment comes. That's ok.
But set your heart and your mind on leaving your life of sin NOW.
He's got your back. He'll get you through. Lean in close, snuggle up on His lap and watch him carry you out of your life of sin starting.......NOW!
Remember Peter, the one who denied Jesus? See what he wrote about this subject. 2 Peter 1:3-10.