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Friday, July 7th, 2017

Still making headlines are both critical and supportive reactions to the President’s tweets and the responses elicited by them. There are arguments to be made on either side of this debate, but is this really what we as a nation want to fight about? We all have critics in our lives, some more antagonistic than others, so this news story is not singular to our President and the media. We have all probably responded to our critics in a way that we weren’t necessarily proud of later, too. Further, we have all wished for a second chance to respond in a better, more edifying manner. Do you ever wonder how Jesus always said the exact right thing to his critics? Consider the story of the adulteress in John 8. She is produced by the Pharisees and their mob of onlookers as a trap for Jesus, thinking that he will say something sacrilegious, giving them a reason to stone him to death. Sound familiar? For any of us, this seems like an impossible situation: either forgive her and break the Law of Moses (thus signing your own death warrant) or accuse her and violate all you stand for. Instead of only considering his obvious options, Jesus created his own, and in doing so, taught the Pharisees, the mob, and all of us an important lesson. He said, “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He responded with love and empathy, defusing the situation but also not martyring himself in place of the woman. In our nation, repaying evil with evil is common, and in some cases even celebrated. Think of the viral “clap-backs” or retorts that people tweet that are just as destructive as the original ugly tweet. We also see countless stories of bullying and needless victimization of those without the means or will to fight back. If there is one thing we can draw from this story in John 8, it is that when criticized, we are never trapped into choosing fight or flight. Jesus created a third option: we can frame the criticism with a Christ-centered perspective and respond as He did. Today, pray for the wisdom and words to frame your responses as Jesus did.

"Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” -- John 8: 2-11 ESV

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