Posts Tagged ‘Mike Slaughter’

“Casting stones” in John 8 means literally casting stones

February 8, 2016

On the eve of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, this blog post from fellow United Methodist pastor Mike Slaughter is making the rounds on social media today. Suffice it to say, if I had a post entitled, “40-Day Fast from Being a Jerk,” it would have to reflect on ways in which my own thoughts, words, and behavior are jerk-y. It would be a lengthy post!

Rev. Slaughter doesn’t go that route. At one point he writes, “Yes, we must admit, we who sin are guilty of casting stones. Our self-righteous indignation and critical judgment of others does not honor God or build faith in the lives of people in our networks of influence.”

I only want to focus on this first sentence: “Yes, we must admit, we who sin are guilty of casting stones.”

As far as I know, this is completely wrong. I’ve never heard of Christians in my lifetime casting stones at other people because of their sins.

If you think I sound nuts for raising this objection, it’s because you’re forgetting the context in which Jesus spoke these words in John 8:7. Jesus wasn’t speaking figuratively. When he said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” he was talking about actual stones, thrown at someone who, under the Law of Moses, was guilty of a capital crime.

It’s not that the woman isn’t guilty of a serious sin, or even that she doesn’t deserve death. She is and does. It’s just that the men who intend to cast stones are also sinners who deserve death for their sins. We all do. As Paul reminds us, “The wages of sin is death” and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Thank God, then, that because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, we don’t get what we deserve! Thank God that God incarnate, Jesus Christ, out of love, willingly chose to receive the death penalty for our sins—in our place. I believe Jesus’ words and actions in John 8 point forward to the cross. No, Jesus doesn’t condemn us, not because our sin isn’t worthy of condemnation, but because he has lain down his life as a propitiation for them.

If the starting point of the gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t that we are sinners who deserve death and hell, then how else do we make sense of the gospel? Worse, how can we escape the conclusion that God himself is a “jerk” for judging and condemning people who refuse the saving grace made possible only through his Son’s sacrifice?

For all I know, Slaughter agrees with all of this, but, as always, before we speak of God’s grace, can we please remind people why they need it in the first place?

Sermon 12-08-13: “Reel Christmas, Part 2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

December 14, 2013

grinch

Our gospel lesson today tells the story of a real-life Grinch named Zacchaeus, who, like the green creature in the holiday TV classic, steals from others before repenting and being transformed by love. Like the Grinch, our lives can also be transformed by love—God’s love, as demonstrated through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus. We Christians have much to learn from the Whos as well. Outside the walls of our church we have “Grinches” who are awaiting their invitation to experience God’s life-changing love, grace, and mercy. Will we go out and invite them, or wait for them to come to us?

Click here to read or watch Part 1 of this sermon series on It’s a Wonderful Life.

Sermon Text: Luke 19:1-10

The following is my original sermon manuscript with videos inserted in the right places. Please note: the video below preceded the beginning of the sermon.

When I was a kid growing up, my father had two jobs related to trimming the Christmas tree. His main job was hauling it into the garage, sawing the bottom of the trunk off, and fitting it into the tree stand. But his other job was untangling the Christmas tree lights and testing the light bulbs. Remember the days when lights were wired in series, which meant that if just one bulb was out, the entire strand didn’t work. And you had to go bulb by bulb, testing. Untangling and testing. Untangling and testing. Dad hated that job! And he let us know how much he hated it by using some colorful language to describe it, believe me.

But Dad’s salty language didn’t bother us kids in the least. We knew that Christmas was on its way when Dad was cursing about the Christmas tree lights! Read the rest of this entry »

Theologically questionable tweets, part 1

September 25, 2012

According to this tweet, Rev. Mike Slaughter, a well-known United Methodist pastor and author, said the following [click to enlarge]:

On first blush, this sounds like a good Methodist thing to say. God has no need to actively punish us for our sin. Rather, our punishment is simply suffering sin’s natural consequences.

Unless I’m mistaken, however, one problem with sin in this world of time and space is that we often don’t suffer consequences, not in proportion to the wrong that we’ve done. Our finitude has a way of insulating us from sin’s consequences. We too often sin with impunity.

Wouldn’t it therefore be gracious on God’s part—a severe mercy—for God to use punishment to alert us, his children, to the harm that we’re causing—to ourselves, to others, and to our relationship with God?

In fact, this is what God promises to do. As the writer of Hebrews says, quoting Proverbs,

My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline
or give up when you are corrected by him,
because the Lord disciplines whomever he loves,
and he punishes every son or daughter whom he accepts. [Hebrews 12:5b-6, CEB]

I wonder if people who believe that God doesn’t punish for sin underestimate its destructive power. What do you think?