Caden and Evie,
As I begin this letter, written the month before the 2016 Presidential Election, I want to preface a few things.
First, I want you to know that I do not write this letter to support the Republican party, condemn the Democratic party, or reinforce the need for an Independent party to rise up. I do not write this letter to (in any way) condone, excuse, justify, rationalize, or explain-away ANY of the behaviors of ANY of the candidates that are up for nomination. I do not write this letter to explain to you that others have fought for your freedom to vote, nor do I write this letter to give you hope that ANY candidate in ANY party will ever be the answer to our world’s problems. I do not write this letter to reinforce divided lines; I do not write this letter to explain how theology should or shouldn’t inform our decision to vote; and I do not write this letter to suggest that you should forget or neglect your values when you (one day) choose to cast your ballot. I do not write this letter to give my opinion on either of the nominees (because honestly, I don’t have a favorable opinion of either), and I most certainly am not writing this letter to suggest that making a choice to vote is “easy” or “simple.” I’m not writing for ANY of these reasons.
So why am I writing this letter to you?
I’m writing this letter to you because should you (one day) find yourself with the privilege to vote, I want you to remember one simple thing.
And that is this:
You are casting ballots, not casting stones.
Let me explain. And to do so, let me start with the Word.
In John 8, verses 1-11, the Word of God reads:
“Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, ‘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.’ “
So why John 8?
Why John 8 when writing a letter about an election year and your right vote?
It’s simple, kids. And it’s this:
I think there are many of us who have forgotten this Truth from John 8–many of us who have put this portion of Truth on the back-burner while discussing politics and party lines–many of us who have been quick to cast our opinions about candidates while simultaneously casting condemning stones.
See, when I look at these candidates, I see myself.
I see my sin in their faults, and I see my shortcomings in theirs.
I see my failures in their flesh, and I see my flaws in theirs.
I see my “yuck” in their “nasty,” and I see my “junk” in their “yuck.”
When I look at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I see Jessica Buczek.
Because I, too, have used my words to ridicule, demean, and hurt others.
Because I, too, have lied and then covered up my lies.
Because I, too, have cheated systems and broken laws.
Because I, too, have supported unhealthy causes and perpetuated dysfunctional beliefs.
Because I, too, have had murderous thoughts and made stereotypical statements.
Because I, too, have acted in fear and lived in judgment.
Because I, too, have made false promises and exaggerated the truth.
Because I, too, have stayed committed to other sinners.
Because I, too, have not sought forgiveness or made apologies.
Because I, too, have a boatload of pride and a whole lot of ego.
Because I, too, have excused my mistakes and covered my sins.
Because I, too, have been unkind to others in an attempt to protect others.
Because I, too, have made decisions that have affected the lives of others.
Because I, too, have not handled “classified” information in appropriate ways.
Because I, too, am a sinner-a sinner deserving of a stoning.
Did you notice what Jesus DIDN’T do when the scholars and Pharisees brought in the adulteress?
He didn’t excuse her sin. He didn’t blame-shift her sin. He didn’t justify her sin. He didn’t rationalize her sin. He didn’t diminish her sin. He didn’t overlook her sin. He did NONE of that.
Because sin is sin and wrong is wrong. And before a Holy God, no one stands without sin.
But here’s what He DID DO.
He drew something in the dirt; He forgave her sin; and then He called her to sin no more.
So what did He draw with his finger? What was in the dirt that made the self-righteous leaders stop dead in their tracks and drop their stones? What was it?
I don’t have an answer to what he drew, but here’s what I think.
I think He “drew” a comparison between this woman’s sin and their sin.
I think He brought to light their brokenness; I think He brought awareness to their fallen-ness; and I think He brought to their attention the similarity of their offenses against a righteous God.
He leveled them all with Himself.
And did He condemn her sin, rub her face in it, or make her atone for it? No.
But why not?
Didn’t Jesus see how “bad” her sin was? Didn’t he take it seriously? Didn’t he need to make a spectacle of her in order to call-out the sin?
The answer is “yes.” He did. He absolutely did. But not by allowing a bunch of angry people a chance to throw a hard-hitting stone. No.
He saw how “bad”
her their sin was…and He died on the cross for it.
He saw how “serious”
her their sin was…and He died on the cross for it.
And when He died, He made a spectacle of HIS LOVE…calling us ALL out.
Do I think Jesus would be pleased with all of the behaviors of Donald Trump?
Do I think He would explain-away his arrogant attitudes, excuse his deplorable words, embrace all of his ideas, or encourage his sinful choices?
Do I think Jesus would be pleased with all of the behaviors of Hillary Clinton?
Do I think He would condone her deceitful actions, commend some of her platforms, collaborate with some of her ideas, or cover over her sinful choices?
Because sin is sin and wrong is wrong.
And because I also know (without a shadow of a doubt) that He hasn’t and doesn’t explain-away, excuse, embrace, or encourage ANY of Jessica Buczek’s sin. NONE of it.
And if it were myself, Donald Trump, or even Hilary Clinton standing in the middle of that angry mob with their rocks raised, I believe He would call each of us (along with the mob) to the very same thing He did in John 8.
He would “draw” our attention to our sin; forgive it; and then call us to sin no more.
So kids…when you get the opportunity to vote some day, I encourage you to remember the following three things:
- You (a sinful voter) will always be voting for a fallen nominee.
- When you vote, you will never be voting for a faultless King or a perfect Kingdom (you already have one of those and His Kingdom is yet to come).
- And when you choose to exercise your right to vote, you are casting a ballot…not a stone.
Caden and Evie, be kind as you vote. Be holy as you engage with others who are also voting. And always…always…ALWAYS…pray for HIS will to be done.