In John 8, the story is told of the Pharisees bringing a woman caught in adultery (not the man, just the woman) to Jesus to ask Him what to do with her, noting that in the time of Moses they were to stone her. Of course, the Pharisees weren't actually looking for advice but were looking to trick Jesus. Jesus bends down to write on the ground, then stands to say, "Let him who is without sin among you, be the first to throw a stone at her." Then he bends down again to write on the ground. When he looks up again, there is no one left.
While there are MANY remarkable things about this incident, what is most remarkable to me (in this day and age of "reality" being so subjective) is that they "went away one by one, beginning with the older ones." Justification of our sins has served us well for centuries. It's how we live with ourselves. Our brain needs to make sense of our own violation of morals and ethics so it explains it in a way that allows us to sleep at night (even though some sleep loss might be warranted!). But no-one threw a stone.
This past week we had another book club meeting with the DML team to look at our last chapter of the book Honorable in Business where the author challenged us to be stone catchers. In John 8, the Pharisees walked away and no-one threw a stone. Maybe because they recognized Jesus in the form of God before them and they had to be honest? But today, many people throw stones without thinking twice. Those stones are being hurled in many different contexts, and part of our call, as Christians in the workplace, is to be stone catchers - protecting those who are being stoned. The authors write:
At times, Christians in business will be stone catchers - acting with justice and mercy in a world where often the results of business activities are like stones being thrown at supervisors, colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, stockholders, the public, anyone in general, with or without naming specific individuals. In these instances, the Christian who wishes to answer the question asked in heaven: "Were you honorable in business?" in the affirmative, must act ...as a stone catcher.
Since the Christian knows the end of the story, he or she will today "engage in business with a sense of hope and meaning." They will look forward to whatever God has in mind for eternity for those who have spent their lives serving their fellow humans through "enabling the community to flourish and providing opportunities for employees to engage in meaningful and creative work. (Honorable in Business, Gibson and Augsburger)
We live in a world of stone throwers. Sometimes these stones are obvious, but often they are not. They can be physical, verbal, or even non-verbal. They hurt, they damage, they destroy.
The marketplace is a difficult place to be. We are surrounded by hurting people living in a world of judgment. It is not enough that we consider our own sin before throwing a stone - sometimes we need to step in and be the stone-catcher.
Catching stones that are thrown with force with the intent to injure or kill is putting yourself in danger's way. That may hurt.
Catching stones that are not well-aimed, means you may be injured yourself. You may not be able to catch it. It may strike a blow. That will hurt.
But as the people of God, who are to be the Church every day of the week, in every setting, we need to have eyes to see this pain and the courage to step in.
We teach that to love our neighbor requires four C's: compassion, capacity, competence, and courage.
May God help us to further develop these muscles to be stone catchers and share the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Christ.
PS - Friends, we just finished our Economics of Hope class this past week with our partners. We discussed how the shame of poverty is a major partner in brokenness for how the materially poor see themselves. Instead of seeing themselves as being created in the image of God, they often feel inferior to others. At this time, we are seeking to raise funds to mitigate the huge numbers of people moving toward extreme poverty because of the pandemic. We have a matching grant opportunity that needs to be met by the end of March. For more information, and to participate, please click here.