When a tragedy happens or we find ourselves inside of a scenario that we are being deeply affected by or we are caught up in a situation that is unsettling and truly out of our hands (hello, 2020); we find that we emerge in one of just two ways:
1. We stick to what we know and attempt to stay the course, keeping a stiff upper lip while clinging to our security blanket as if our name was Linus
2. We recognize that everything has just changed, like it or not, and we meet that change head on with a heart that is open to adapt, grow and learn everything we can from what just happened.
As we can all guess (based on human nature) most people fall within the first modus operandi, most people just want things to stay as close to ‘normal’ or ‘usual’ as they can be; especially when life as we once knew it has been upended. The rare group of people are those who stand and hold a steady gaze like flint at the rubble and the aftermath, determining as a detective would, the cause and the break down in order to gain an understanding through faith and perseverance that they’ve never had before. And as much as we would all think we know which number we would most likely be listed under, the only way to truly know how we would deal with these types of situations, is only found as we go through them.
John 8:2-11 (NKJ)
“Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
This story has been told to prove many points. We use it a lot. This story has something for everyone, doesn’t it? From waiting for God’s wisdom before speaking, to forgiving people and everything in between. We could do a new blog every week for the remaining years that we all have on the planet from this story alone and have more than enough to talk about and glean from every single week. This week, however, we want to point our attention toward a real subtle example that Jesus gave us for dealing with the clamoring of the loudest voices. Incase we didn’t all get it at the same time, we underlined a few of the sentences from the scripture (above). At the beginning, in the middle and at the end of those anointed words that Jesus spoke, He did something rather remarkable and seemingly rather rude. HE IGNORED WHAT WAS HAPPENING. He tuned Himself out. He changed the channel during commercials. He took a day-cation internally. He blocked the clamoring crowd. The scribes & Pharisees (who knew the law) are essentially demanding that He acknowledge that law and drop this whole “nice guy” act that everyone had been talking about; and start pounding the gavel.
So what is Jesus' first move? He crouches down and writes on the ground AS THOUGH HE DIDN’T EVEN HEAR THEM! What a power play. This of course gets them riled up into an even more demanding frenzy and they keep at it until He stands up and gives them a message straight from heaven that pierces their hearts and causes internal convictions all around. His next move? Oh, yeah, He crouches down again and continues to practice His signature on the dirt. He doesn’t even look around to see the expressions on their faces or to witness that moment when they realize that they’ve been out maneuvered (by God no less). And as their epic exodus is happening, Jesus doesn’t look around until He stands up and only sees the woman, alone without anyone demanding anything. That zone of focus is purely, next level.
Crowds are an interesting animal, aren't they? Grab a hat and place it on the ground in a busy (outdoor only of course) shopping center and just start talking loudly while juggling something every once in a while; and you'll have a crowd in no time. People get lost in crowds. People get swept into crowds. People get that curiosity switch flipped to the on position when they see a crowd. And that is why a crowd (or mob) is one of the most effective ways for the devil to move freely in the midst of people who find themselves a bit overcrowded. Of course, when we think of crowds we automatically think about actual people standing close together in real time and in real life; this does happen, true, however this is no longer the only way to form a crowd. Let's all do a crowd check real quick: let's raise our hands if we have a smart phone, how about a computer or tablet of some kind, what about a smart tv or a smart watch, how about a smart home? Welcome to the crowd (or shall we say, the cloud). See, technology with all of it's simplifications of our daily lives; is also our new access point to the clamors of crowds (mobs). At the click of a button we can 'join the conversations' or hashtag our way straight into the protest or even take part in dragging a person 'caught in the act' straight into the temple square and demand that they be cancelled. We've seen it over and over, and Jesus saw it too; the only difference is that He refused to give these clamorous crowds any bit of His attention.
Jesus made some bold moves in His ministry time. He acted swiftly and purposefully toward anything that attempted to dictate the way in which He helped people. Sometimes it was a rebuke, other times it was a miraculous event, then there were those times when He simply IGNORED everything clamoring all around Him. In fact, we can see that every time people clamored, He ignored them. Every time there was a lot of dust being kicked up, He tuned it out. So how did He do it? He focused on His Father. He determined to listen to only His Father's words and see what His Father showed Him, rather than what He was hearing and seeing right in front of Him. He did as Isaiah 50:7 put it He "set His face like flint." And here we find what we must do as the clamoring gets more crowded and closer to us in proximity. See, we aren't tuning people out or ignoring people or disregarding issues and showing some sort of callous towards the clamoring - what we are doing is ignoring the input from our souls and our bodies in order to hear the voice of our Father in the very middle of every situation. We are making a way for our spirit to connect with the Spirit of the Living God and we are choosing to listen with our hearts instead of our ears, choosing to see with our hearts instead of our eyes and choosing to only acknowledge the TRUTH (the Words of God) instead of the "facts" laid out before us.
John 14:6 (NKJ)
"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
In a world that is changing faster than the French Laundry's outdoor dining policies, we must be the type of people who easily adapt to new terrains without taking our eyes off of our relationship with God. Since God never changes, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever; even in the midst of turmoil we must remain consistent with who we TRULY are in Christ Jesus on the inside. The outside life is going to constantly be full of distractions. Be that as it may, we must keep the distractions on the outside, never giving them the attention that they are clamoring for. The beauty of all of this is that we, the people of God, get to choose what type of response that we will set as our 'default' to things happening around us that are out of our control and/or consent. How do we do this? By collaborating with the Holy Spirit on the inside who leads and guides us into all TRUTH. No matter what and as 1 Corinthians 3:21 declares, ALL THINGS are at our disposal. Come hell or high-water, we the Jesus followers, choose to deflect, divert and disregard all of the panic and clamorous knee-jerk reactions expressed by wonderful well meaning people who have been caught up in the crowds.
We choose to be a force of immovable reliance upon the love of God that always provides a way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (TPT) "We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously."