Over the weekend our family went out for fish and chips at a favorite restaurant. LOL Well, more like shrimp and fries. While waiting for our dinner plates to arrive overflowing, I was watching two young children radiate around the fish tank. They would put their faces up to the glass and probe inside.. I smiled as I watched in fascination at them as they made face after face at the fish who were now all in a flutter. They began poking at the glass with their fingers. If possible I think they would have cheerfully pulled those fish right out of the tank and investigated them close up.
That finger pointing got to me. They were tapping with a fierceness to try to get the attention of the fish. Well, the fish would just scatter to the other side and what do you know? The kiddos would rush to the other side in hopes of..well I'm not sure what, but that got me thinking about how many times I feel the poke of others. If I ignore the oncoming pokes, well sometimes people just seem to rush in every direction to try to get my attention or even more so my aggravation.
No matter where we are there is always someone watching. Most of the time there is one who is awaiting that opportunity to poke and point. The thing is, that poke isn't so much fun for the pokee.
Do you know that from inside the tank everything is magnified from the outside? As those little fish swim around and playfully mind their own business, whatever catches their eye in distraction outside that tank looks monstrous! Ever feel that way, yourself? When we are being aggravated the situation at hand seems huge. It feels huge.
This is what it feels like to be picked on and bullied. Yes, judging others is just the same as bullying. It's not even having a thought of the other person's feelings. Even a look of disgust can bring one to tears. Oh, why do we allow ourselves to become to pious? Do you think it happens before we even realize it? At what point in life do we come to the realization that we are better than another? Is it because we see another stumble and because we have never made that tumble we can't relate and therefore we think we would never do such a thing? Oh friends, a stumble is a stumble. Most of us just stumble outside for everyone to witness, but those stumbles with the doors closed are one in the same.
I was picked on and bullied in my eighth grade year of school. I hated school. I was terrified and I never wanted to go back. It took me a long time to trust again. But even as adults we can feel pointed at and poked at. It's never fun. These children were having a grand time. In my heart I wanted to go over and quiet the children down as their parents enjoyed their dinner in silence. My bullied self wanted to shout, "Stop!" My heart was just reminded of that enormous feeling of having someone stand there and poke at you in every way possible, with others standing near by and not doing anything to stop it.
Remember the woman who was about to be stoned to death for adultery? (John 8:1-11) She was being poked at and pointed at and was made a sceptical for all those standing near. She was judged by a jury of men who found her guilty. They were ready to stone her before the truth was out. It seems the truth didn't even matter much here. What about the man she was to be found with? Just where was the finger pointing in his direction? It almost sounds as if he too was doing some finger pointing. Until Jesus sees the woman standing in the center where the Pharisees decided to put her. Can you imagine her fear? Her shame? She was accused and found guilty. In this case, this was much more than about the woman. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus as well. Isn't that what finger pointers do?
But Jesus doesn't go along with their guilty verdict. In fact, the Bible says, "Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:6b-7
Before we begin pointing and poking at others let us remember we are all sinners in need of grace. Before we judge another for an act let us remember at the foot of the cross we are all on level ground. Let us live and give the same grace that we ask for on a daily basis.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
"Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things." Romans 2:1
"Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13
If we are not careful we can live as the Pharisees with thought that we are better than others and can have our fingers locked and loaded, ready to shoot at the first offense. Might we simply live in love. Christ's love to be exact. There is no place for judgement from where we sit. Before a finger ever goes out to another and we utter, "Can you believe what she did?", may we remember that if not for the grace of God, there go I.